The Boston Red Sox are headed to their fourth World Series in 15 years, and they punched their ticket to the Fall Classic on the back of David Price.
With Chris Sale ailing, Price got the ball on three days rest Thursday in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series and absolutely dominated the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
Final score: Red Sox 4, Astros 1.
Price, who had been 0-9 in his postseason career as a starter, silenced all of his doubters by turning in an absolute gem, striking out nine in six shutout innings. The left-hander showcased a fastball in the mid-90s, a filthy changeup and a slick slider that kept the Astros’ vaunted offense guessing all night long. Price punctuated his outing by striking out Jose Altuve to end the sixth, screaming as he sent Altuve back to the dugout.
“It feels good,” Price said on getting his first postseason win as a starter, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “I don’t think I’m going to have to answer that question next year in spring training or September 1st. I don’t have to answer that question now and that feels good.”
After being hammered in a Game 2 loss in the AL Division Series to the New York Yankees, many wondered if Price could be trusted to be in the rotation for the remainder of Boston’s postseason run. Manager Alex Cora never wavered, giving his big southpaw the start in Game 2 of the ALCS with the Red Sox trailing 1-0 in the series. Price battled that night, helping Boston even the series despite being saddled with a no-decision, and the lefty finished exorcizing his playoff demons Thursday.
“A lot,” Price said when asked what it meant to him to have Red Sox fans cheering him on this stage. “I care a great deal about what I do. I’m very passionate. I expect to be great, I expect to do it in big moments and for that to be able to happen tonight, that means a lot to me.”
Going on short rest against the defending champions and ace Justin Verlander, Price did what many wondered if he was capable of doing in Boston. He took the ball on the biggest stage and outdueled an opposing ace, sending the Red Sox to the World Series in the process.
There are few moments in sports when an athlete can say no one believed they could do it. Price probably could have made that case before he took the mound Thursday, but that won’t be the case the next time he toes the rubber.
And there’s no doubt he earned it.
Here are more notes from Red Sox-Astros Game 5:
— Jackie Bradley Jr. was named ALCS MVP. The Red Sox center fielder went 3-for-15 in the series but recorded nine RBIs, the third most in the LCS in franchise history. David Ortiz (11) and Manny Ramirez (10) are the only two players ahead of Bradley.
— Thursday was Cora’s 43rd birthday and the Red Sox wished their skipper a happy birthday with a win and a song.
— The Red Sox have not lost a playoff game after being trolled by the opposing team. Boston won two straight to eliminate the Yankees after Aaron Judge played “New York, New York” following a Game 2 win, and the Sox won three straight in Houston after Astros third baseman Alex Bregman took a shot at Nathan Eovaldi prior to Game 3.
— Price joined an exclusive club Thursday as he joined Pedro Martinez and Daisuke Matsuzaka as the only two Red Sox pitchers to throw six shutout innings with nine or more strikeouts in an ALCS game.
— The left-hander had a special moment with his son, Xavier, after the game. It was the first time his son had been at one of his playoff starts, but he’ll be at the next one.
“My son will be at my next playoff start, no matter what time it is,” Price said he told his wife after the game.