David Price looked like he was going to be a lost cause (again) in the 2018 postseason.
He was shelled in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, which marked the continuation of incessant postseason woes as a starter.
Two days after the start, however, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora took a different approach when discussing the situation. He compared Price to Justin Verlander and Pedro Martinez, noting they too had some playoff strife for a while, but eventually turned things around.
“I think there’s been guys around the league that, they struggle their first 10 starts,” Cora said Oct. 8. “Like Verlander. Nobody remembers that he wasn’t good early in his career in the playoffs, and now he’s kind of like the poster child of playoff baseball. I read something about Pedro (Martinez struggling) against Cleveland.”
At the time, the comment teetered on the line of lunacy — but boy were we silly to think that. Cora has pushed the right buttons all season long, even with numerous naysayers believing otherwise along the way.
In the southpaw’s two most recent starts he’s been great, with the most recent outing yielding a 4-2 World Series Game 2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. Price tossed six strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Time after time, Cora has voiced his support for Price. Even when it seems crazy, he’s stuck up for his players, and in the case of Price in these playoffs, it was like he was predicting the future.
Entering the postseason, how Price would perform was both the biggest and most important question. Now having possibly made his last start of the campaign, it’s fair to say the 33-year-old has given us the answer.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Dodgers Game 2:
— The bullpen as a whole has been tremendous this postseason, but Joe Kelly has been borderline untouchable. He was the first reliever in once Price departed in Game 2, handling the seventh inning. He thoroughly dominated the three batters he faced, striking out a pair.
Kelly was tremendous to start the season, proving to be one of the best high-leverage relief pitchers in the game. But reasonable concern and skepticism were raised when his performance went in the tank in the middle and, at times, late in the regular season.
But after making the playoff roster (which wasn’t a guarantee given the way he was throwing at the time), Kelly has hit his stride and proven trustworthy. In 7 1/3 postseason innings, he has a 1.23 ERA, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
— J.D. Martinez hasn’t slowed up in October after a stellar regular season.
The Sox’s star slugger had the game’s biggest hit, breaking a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a two-RBI single to right field, putting the Red Sox up by the deciding margin.
He now has back-to-back multi-RBI games to kick off the World Series. He joins, of course, David Ortiz as the only designated hitters to do that in Fall Classic history.
— The Red Sox are up in the series 2-0 for the fifth time in franchise history.
In three of the four previous instances the Red Sox ended up winning it all, with the 1916, 2004 and 2007 teams all sealing the deal. The 1986 Red Sox, however, ended up falling in seven games to the New York Mets.
— Cora used Nathan Eovaldi in the eighth inning, all but certainly precluding him from starting in Game 3.
That was confirmed after the game, as Cora said Rick Porcello will get the ball in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium on Friday. He added that Eovaldi possibly could get Game 4. If not Eovaldi on Saturday, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez seems like the likely option given the matchup challenges he creates for the Dodgers.