Coming into Monday’s start was anything but a great feeling for Red Sox fans and what should be the co-ace for Boston.
In two rehab starts for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, neither time could David Price get out of the fourth inning. In those two starts minor leaguers hit .400 against him. In his second and final start against the Louisville Bats – pitching against guys who aren’t even quite good enough to play for their own major league sub .500 team, the Cincinnati Reds. Price also wasn’t able to compile many innings, and more importantly he was pitching to contact and not missing bats in the minors.
However due to his proven resume as a proven ace in the majors, David Price was able to avoid a third rehab start. Judging by his two showings in Triple-A he was almost certain to stay down longer, but the Red Sox deemed him ready twenty-four hours later when the team decided they’d seen enough to make his season debut in the Windy City against the White Sox.
On Monday Price finished with a stat line of five innings, allowing three runs on 88 pitches. All three runs came in the third inning after a pair of walks and a three-run homer. With an injury to Dustin Pedroia and little offensive support, Price’s start was the only encouraging news on the day for Boston.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Price told reporters after the game. “I felt good. Just command the baseball a little bit better with my fastball and I think things will take off for me.”
During the outing David Price’s fastball topped out at 96.3 mph, and managed to stay above 94 mph until his final offering of the game. He got a combined 11 swing-and-misses, which was a big improvement from his Triple-A starts and only allowed two hits on the day.
“After the fifth I still felt strong,” the pitcher told reporters. “I felt strong in the fifth. After that inning I still felt really good. I didn’t feel like my stuff changed all that much throughout the game. I’m back.”
However in the seventh, what was looking like a worthy win in his 2017 debut, turned into a no decision for the Boston pitcher. After a scoreless sixth from Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes opened the seventh by allowing a lead off triple, followed by a game-tying double to negate the win for David Price.
The Red Sox would go on to lose the opening game to a score of 5-4. All-in-all Boston should look at it as a moral victory with the positive showing they got from Price. Hopefully there is plenty of starts like these on the horizon for the Red Sox, and if there is… they have as lethal of a 1-2 combination at the top of the rotation as any in baseball, with still so much baseball to be played.