TORONTO - The playoffs continue to haunt David Price.
The star lefthander, given much of the credit for Toronto's second-half surge to the AL East title, could not shed the ghosts of poor postseasons past on Thursday afternoon.
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He was knocked around in the Blue Jays' 5-3 loss to the Rangers in ALDS Game 1 in front of a disappointed sellout crowd of 49,834 at Rogers Centre, amped for this city's first postseason game in 22 years.
"It's been seven years," said Price, whose only postseason victory came in relief when he was a rookie in 2008 with the Rays. "I want that monkey off my back . . . I want to go out there and pitch well for my teammates and pitch well for this country, and I didn't do that."
Price, who went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA after the Tigers dealt him to Toronto, fell to 1-6 in 11 career postseason games. He allowed five runs and five hits, including two homers, in seven innings.
"I know it's there," Price said of his playoff drought. "Hopefully it comes in my next start. I don't have an answer for you, to be honest. But it'll get better."
Rangers righthander Yovani Gallardo, who didn't allow a run in 132/3 innings against Toronto during the regular season, was perfect through three innings and allowed two runs and three hits in five innings.
In Game 2 Friday afternoon, former Patchogue-Medford High School star Marcus Stroman will start for the Blue Jays against the Rangers' Cole Hamels.
The starting pitchers are the least of either team's concerns heading into that game. Both clubs lost star players in Game 1, though the news seems a bit better for the Blue Jays than the Rangers.
The first to depart was the Rangers' Adrian Beltre, who left before the bottom of the third, led off the field in tears. The injury, later diagnosed as a back strain, occurred on a first-inning slide into second as he unsuccessfully tried to break up a double play. He's questionable for Game 2.
"He's the heart and soul of this ballclub," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Beltre, 36, who hit .287 with 18 homers and 83 RBIs in 143 games.
Then AL MVP candidate Josh Donaldson left for what the Blue Jays announced as a "precaution" after taking a knee to the head on a slide into second in the bottom of the fourth. Donaldson, who passed a concussion test, and Jose Bautista, who left the game in the ninth with right hamstring tightness, are expected to play in Game 2.
"I should be good to go [Friday],'' said Bautista, who homered in the sixth to bring the Blue Jays within 4-3. He and Edwin Encarnacion missed going back-to-back by feet, as Encarnacion's drive to left hooked foul at the last moment.
But Price, who allowed a two-run homer to former Rays teammate Robinson Chirinos in the fifth to make it 4-1, gave up a one-out solo blast by Rougned Odor in the seventh to expand the lead to 5-3. Price had hit Odor the first two times up.
"It's frustrating," Price said. "I hold myself in extremely high regard and I know my teammates do as well and so does the country of Canada. I didn't throw the ball as well as I'm capable today. But I'll be ready to go whenever it's my turn again."