BOSTON — Much has been made of Dustin Pedroia’s recent film session with David Price, in which the Red Sox second baseman noticed a flaw in the left-handed ace’s delivery.
But Pedroia’s advice for Price — urging the Red Sox pitcher to raise his knee higher on his leg kick — wouldn’t have meant much if Price laid another stinker Thursday night.
Fortunately for Boston, Price did just the opposite, striking out 12 Houston Astros batters over 6 2/3 innings in an 11-1 Red Sox rout at Fenway Park. It was exactly the dominant performance Price needed after an ugly first month of the season.
“I thought there was better finish to all four of his pitches through the strike zone,” manager John Farrell said of Price. “He was powerful, probably as much as we’ve seen all year.”
Indeed, Price’s higher leg kick appeared to directly impact his velocity. He averaged 93.1 miles per hour on his fastball Thursday, his highest such average during any start this season, according to NESN’s “Extra Innings Live.” He threw consistently hard throughout the game, too: One of his fifth-inning heaters hit 96 mph on Fenway’s radar gun.
“I allowed myself to get into my power position,” Price said. “That’s something I’ve worked on the last four days leading up to this start. It was a big key for me, and it helped out a lot.”
Price’s fastball has been critical to his success throughout his career. The 30-year-old veteran consistently clocked in the 93-95 mph range on his fastballs during the last three seasons, and while his average fastball velocity had dipped to 91.7 mph entering Thursday’s start, his ability to dial up the heat produced results: Eight of Price’s 12 strikeouts against Houston came via the fastball (five two-seam fastballs, two cutters and one four-seam fastball).
Credit the fixed delivery and the higher leg kick, which Price admitted he had begun to stray from as early as last season.
“It’s what I need to do,” he said. “It’s what every pitcher needs to do. I got away from that, and I had success last year not doing that, and that’s probably why I kind of stayed the same this year. To be able to acknowledge that, with help from the coaching staff and Pedey was a good adjustment to be able to make.”
Of course, one good start does not a complete turnaround make, as Price still sports a hefty 6.00 ERA through eight starts. But after the performance he saw out of Price on Thursday, Farrell believes his ace is headed in the right direction.
“It’s just a measure of his delivery being more timed up,” Farrell said. “He was able to use his power without any leaking or drifting toward home plate. Just better delivery; better stuff.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/US ATODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) pitches during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park.