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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Red Sox lefty David Price no stranger to tough outings in the Bronx

As usual, Price falters at Yankee Stadium and October is shaping up like a nightmare scenario for what is becoming a nervous New England fan base.

David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox

David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox stands on the mound during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2018. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Champagne corks travel farther than the Yankees’ three home runs did in Wednesday’s 10-1 rout in the Bronx. Then again, the Red Sox wouldn’t know.

That’s because the bottles inside the Stadium’s visitors clubhouse not only stayed sealed, they probably never even made it to an ice bucket. Knowing David Price’s track record in the Bronx, there was no need, and now the Red Sox, who showed up for this series with 103 wins, may have to wait to celebrate in Cleveland if Masahiro Tanaka is able to cool them off again in Thursday’s finale.

It was bad enough that Price, who was 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break, served up a trio of homers, including two to Luke Voit, to bring Price's total to 13 in his last four starts in the Bronx. But the Yankees also scored a pair of runs on a ground ball that skipped cleanly through the legs of Eduardo Nunez, and the Red Sox were dominated for seven innings by Luis Severino (six strikeouts) in a performance that compelled Boston manager Alex Cora to offer up a mea culpa immediately after getting schooled.

If you remember back to early August, at Fenway Park, it was Cora who took a verbal swipe at Severino, who flipped Mookie Betts with a fastball under the chin but lasted only 5 1/3 innings in the Yankees’ 4-1 loss. The still steaming Cora was asked then about any continuing bad blood between the two clubs, and he mocked Severino with the puzzling response, “I don’t know . . . Is that a quality start?”

Cora didn’t get high marks for his delivery, but we got the point. It was an insult. But after Severino made Cora eat those words Wednesday night, the manager was big enough to give credit where it was due.

“That was more than a quality start,” Cora said, cracking a slight smile. “I was thinking about it the whole game. That’s what happens when you open your mouth.”

Suddenly, that four-game sweep at Fenway feels like a very, very long time ago. Despite being a virtual knockout blow to the Yankees’ chances in the AL East race, taking the first two games this week has signaled a shift in momentum, even with the Red Sox traveling with boxes of bubbly along with their bat racks.

Boston came within nine outs of celebrating Tuesday night on their rivals’ hallowed ground before their suspect bullpen torched a 1-0 lead. On Wednesday, Price took care of the suspense early, with an assist from the Stadium’s infamous short porch in rightfield. Miguel Andujar got the pinstriped party started in the second inning with a fly ball that traveled 340 feet at the relatively tepid speed of 94 mph, according to Statcast.

It was a standard-issue, bona fide, Bronx blooper, but counted just the same. Maybe Price let it get inside his head, because he served up two more of similar vintage, both to Voit, who is quickly becoming a Spencer-esque folk hero in these parts. Voit opened the fourth by lofting a 341-footer that barely reached the second row, and then followed with a two-run squeeker in the sixth that a fan leaning at the top of the wall got his hands on.

That floater didn’t have an inch to spare, and the umpires even had to review the play to make sure the fan didn’t assist in the ball’s flight. They ruled in favor of Voit, however, and somehow Statcast measured that one at 343 feet. With all due respect to the technology, we’re skeptical on that one. Even so, Price refused to make any excuses.

“Anytime you give up a home run, it’s frustrating,” said Price, who slipped to 0-3 with a 10.34 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this season (0-2, 12.46 ERA in the Bronx). “But everybody’s playing in the same park. It’s not like the fences move back when we hit or move forward when they hit. It’s part of it.”

Bravo to Price for taking his medicine, but with those numbers, he’s certainly used to it by now. This is how the storyline always goes for him, especially in the Yankees’ building. Where things get interesting is how the plot plays out from here. Someday soon, the Red Sox will clinch the division. And assuming the Yankees get past the wild card, October is shaping up like a nightmare scenario for what is becoming a very nervous New England fan base.

“I’ll get over it,” Price said.

Until the next time.

New York Sports