Unfair or deserved, David Price has a reputation for pitching like butt in the playoffs. Before tonight, he was winless in 11 postseason starts since 2011. In Game 2 against the Astros, he had to settle for the “team win” when he was pulled after 4.2 innings and didn’t factor into the decision for Boston’s 7-5 victory. Tonight, he earned the real thing.
Price pitched six scoreless with nine strikeouts and three hits as the Red Sox snatched the AL pennant from the Astros with a 4-1 win. He was clearly the better pitcher. This one had none of the controversy or insanity of Wednesday night’s Game 4.
Price went up against Justin Verlander, who hadn’t allowed a run for 24 straight innings in elimination games. Although he escaped a second-inning bases-loaded jam by striking out Mookie Betts—pretty impressive!—Verlander eventually made mistakes, and the Red Sox capitalized. Home plate umpire Chris Guccione didn’t help.
On an 0-2 count against J.D. Martinez in the third, Verlander threw a slider that very much looked like strike three. Catcher Martin Maldonado framed it well, too, but no dice. Martinez cracked the next pitch, a hanging curveball, to left field for a 1-0 lead.
Verlander’s second gaffe was more his fault. He found himself with runners on the corners in the sixth inning, and offered a high fastball to Rafael Devers, who took it out of the park for three more runs. Blame the Crawford Boxes for that one if you want.
Price didn’t really provide a chance for the Astros to retaliate, and the bullpen didn’t spoil it for him. Hell, embattled Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel only allowed one base-runner before he finished the ninth inning. Price can finally relax and enjoy the booze, because whichever team faces Boston in the World Series, there’s no way it’ll be the Yankees.