The Boston Red Sox needed David Price to be at his best Saturday afternoon, and the left-hander delivered.
The Red Sox bullpen entered Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader with the Baltimore Orioles reeling from two straight ugly outings by starting pitchers. Rick Porcello surrendered seven runs in four innings in Thursday’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, and Nathan Eovaldi gave up four runs on 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings in Friday’s 19-12 win over Baltimore. So, if nothing else, Boston needed Price to go deep in the twin-bill opener; dominance would be a luxury, not a necessity.
Well, the lefty responded by giving the Sox everything they could’ve asked for — and more.
Price allowed no runs and gave up just five hits while striking out 10 over six innings in Boston’s 5-0 victory. As was the case in his last outing against the New York Yankees, Price utilized a sharp cutter and deceptive changeup to keep minimize hard contact and keep opposing batters off-balance over the course of his 94 pitches.
“(His performance) was very important,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “That backdoor cutter … he was dotting that pitch on the outside part of the plate. Great tempo, good changeup.
” … He’s in a great place right now — physically, mentally. He’s doing an outstanding job mixing up pitches. He’s been great for us.”
Price now is 12-6 with a 3.75 ERA on the season, and is on perhaps his best roll of the season.
“He’s made some adjustments, he works at his craft. He takes pride in what he wants to do and he understands how important he is for us.
” … For him to go six (innings) today, that was great. We’re very happy with the way he’s been throwing. It’s not like he reinvented himself, it’s just make some minor adjustments, and it’s paying off for him right now.”
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Red Sox-Orioles game:
— Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 with a pair of homers in the win. His average now sits at .216, the highest it’s been since April 26.
Cora, for one, expects Bradley to perform well the rest of the year.
“Obviously he’s not going to get a hit every time, but with his swing now, it’s just a matter of time. He’s staying through the ball, staying in the big part of the field, and that works.
“There’s not too many ground balls anymore … he’s hitting the ball into the air.”
— Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of runs — a performance that hardly surprised his manager.
“We have an elite shortstop,” Cora said. “He’s been outstanding.”
— These already-absurd numbers got even better after Boston’s win in Game 1:
— Entering Saturday’s action, Mookie Betts was worth more wins-above-replacement than any other player in Major League Baseball.
— Andrew Benintendi (1-for-5) now has a 10-game hitting streak.
— The Red Sox scored three in runs in the fifth inning of Game 1. They now have scored 97 runs in the fifth this season — 19 more than any other inning.
Thumbnail photo via Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY Sports Images