Boston Red Sox fans who tuned in for Wednesday’s matinee saw both the best and worst of David Price.
As has been the case far too often this season, though, the latter outweighed the former.
Price struck out 10 batters and walked only one, but he allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings as the Red Sox stumbled to a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The veteran left-hander now has allowed 10 earned runs over nine innings in his last two starts, bumping his ERA to 4.74.
If there’s any positive to draw from the 30-year-old’s recent struggles, it’s that he’s taken ownership for them. After signing a lucrative contract this offseason to become the ace of Boston’s staff, Price is off to a shaky start through 17 outings. He’s made his fair share of good starts and still owns an 8-5 record, but the five-time All-Star knows the bar is set higher.
“I’ve got to pitch better,” Price said after the game, as aired on NESN’s “Extra Innings Live.” “That’s what it is right now. It’s nothing else. It’s not bad luck. It’s me. So, I’ve got to get better.”
Price’s issues against the lowly Rays on Wednesday stemmed largely from mislocation. When he hit his spots, Tampa couldn’t touch him, as evidenced by his fifth outing of the season with 10 strikeouts or more. But the Rays made Price pay for his mistakes, starting with a fastball down the middle to Brandon Guyer in the third inning that the Rays right fielder crushed for a solo homer.
The struggles continued into the third for Price, who allowed four hits in a span of five batters on pitches that caught a little too much of the plate.
“It’s probably the worst changeup I’ve had in probably a month,” Price added. “Curveball was awful. Can’t get my cutter or my slider where I want to, and I’m not commanding my fastball the way that I need to. That’s why I’m bad right now.”
Price’s season to date has been a dichotomy of good and bad. He leads the American League with 120 strikeouts and has issued just 25 walks, but he has surrendered 15 home runs and has given up at least one long ball in nine consecutive starts. If the season ended Wednesday, his 4.74 ERA would be the worst of his career.
“Absolutely frustrating,” Price said. “It’s been my worst year. It’s not acceptable. I don’t care if I’m a rookie. It’s not acceptable. I’ve got to get better, and I will.”
Price is saying all the right things by accepting responsibility for his ups and downs. But as the Red Sox reach the halfway point of their season, it’s time for the ace to start walking the walk.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images