BOSTON — Nope, David Price doesn’t have this October thing figured out yet. And he hasn’t solved the Yankees, either.
Price — the Red Sox’s $217-million man — recorded only five outs Saturday night, with the twin narratives of his struggles in the postseason and struggles against the Yankees combining for a nightmare of a start in the Yankees’ 6-2 win in ALDS Game 2.
“It was definitely tough,” he said, “but my spirits aren’t down. My confidence isn’t down. I’m looking forward to getting back out there. If I don’t like [being taken out early], I need to pitch better. Period.”
A series of hard-hit batted balls, including home runs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, plus a pair of walks and an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen prompted Alex Cora to pull Price in favor of a bullpen full of question marks.
Forty-two pitches into his night, Price reached a new nadir in his postseason plight, walking slowly to the home dugout to a chorus of boos from the jam-packed Fenway Park crowd.
The updated numbers for Price: a 5.28 ERA in 18 playoff games and zero wins in 10 starts. In five 2018 starts against the Yankees, he has a 10.91 ERA and 11 homers allowed in 17 1⁄3 innings.
The Saturday spiral came quickly. Judge homered in the first, a 445-foot shot to left-center, the farthest reaches of the Green Monster. Sanchez did the same in the second, sending a 107.7-mph laser into the second row of Monster seats in leftfield for another run. Price got Didi Gregorius and Miguel Andujar to ground out before walking Gleyber Torres and Gardner, the latter after a 2-and-2 changeup narrowly missed the strike zone. Plate umpire Dan Bellino called it a ball (much to the dismay of the Fenway crowd), and MLB’s pitch-tracking technology seemed to agree with Bellino.
Price’s final batter, McCutchen, stepped to the plate as reliever Joe Kelly popped the mitt of a bullpen catcher. After McCutchen’s line drive off the wall in left (he settled for an RBI single), Cora came to get Price.
The final line for Price: 1 2⁄3 innings, three hits, three runs, two walks, no strikeouts, a stunning regression after a second half in which he had a 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 11 starts (the worst of which came against the Yankees).
Saturday was the first time in 299 career starts — regular season or postseason — that Price did not record a strikeout. It also was easily the shortest of Price’s 10 playoff starts (dating to 2010) and shorter than four of his October relief appearances.
“You have to go out there and execute pitches in big spots in counts,” said Price, who was ahead in the count or even with each batter who had a run-scoring hit against him. “And that’s something I wasn’t able to do tonight.”
Added Cora, “It’s all about location. We didn’t elevate. We’ve been talking the whole season, when the [pitches are] on the same plane and his velocity is in the same range, they take advantage of it.”
Asked about the possibility of Price pitching out of the bullpen between starts, given his limited pitch count Saturday, Cora didn’t rule out it out but said there is no plan for a longer-term role change this month. Price said he’ll be available to pitch in Game 3 Monday night.
“He’s part of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Cora said. “He’s one of our starters. Just a bad outing today.”
Said Price: “I just want to win. That’s it . . . Whatever I have to do to help us do that, I’m fine with.”
The ugly numbers for David Price, who didn't make it out of the second inning of Game 2:
10 career postseason starts: 6.03 ERA
12 starts vs. Yankees since joining Red Sox: 7.95 ERA
5 starts in 2018 vs. Yankees: 10.91 ERA.