SportDavid Price exorcised another demon at Yankee Stadium

08:40  03 june  2019
08:40  03 june  2019 Source:   bostonglobe.com

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NEW YORK — A crowd of 40,068 turned out on Sunday night, expecting to see David Price melt down at Yankee Stadium because that is what he had always done since signing with the Red Sox.

Price had pitched six times in the Bronx for the Sox and was 0-6 with a 9.79 earned run average.

So when Price walked off the mound in the seventh inning with a four-run lead, he would have been well within his rights to show some emotion as the fans jeered him.

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But all Price did was take off his cap and wipe the sweat off his brow. He then patted his heart a few times in memory of deceased friends, as always, and disappeared into the dugout.

The Red Sox went to secure an important 8-5 victory.

“He was great. Good command, good mix of pitches,” manager Alex Cora said. “He gave us a chance to win. I’m happy for him that he came here and pitched the way he did. He’s been outstanding the whole season. It didn’t surprise me.”

That Price retired the first 10 Yankees in a row changed the tenor of the series. The Sox, who lost the first two games, were able to take a 3-0 lead and Price held it from there with the help of three relievers.

The Sox snapped a four-game losing streak and beat the Yankees for the first time in five games this season.

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“That was a much-needed win for us,” Price said. “We needed today. We needed to come out and beat those guys the way that we did. That was big for us.”

It also was Price’s first victory at the Stadium since Sept. 11, 2015.

“It feels good,” he readily admitted. “To pitch well in a place I haven’t pitched well in a while against a team that’s given me problems, that feels good.”

Price has banished more ghosts than Scooby-Doo and the gang over the last few months. He was 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA in six playoff games last season, winning in the postseason for the first time as a starter, then helping to lead the Red Sox past the Dodgers in the World Series.

Price deserved to be named Most Valuable Player of the Series. But he earned something even better: The satisfaction that comes with proving critics wrong.

“I hold all the cards now,” he said after the Sox celebrated on the field at Dodger Stadium.

That wasn’t quite true. Beating the Yankees in a Red Sox uniform was still an unchecked box.

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In our passionate corner of the baseball world, how a member of the Red Sox plays against the Yankees matters more than how he performs against the other 29 teams.

The same is true in New York. Fans on both sides almost always have a friend, family member, or co-worker who roots for the other team and the games take on greater significance whether they deserve to or not.

So Price had to beat the Yankees here to drop that last nuisance into the trash can. Getting the first nine outs on 30 pitches was a sign of just how well prepared Price was to do that.

“I think he went to some places [Sunday] that he didn’t last year. He made some adjustments,” Cora said.

That Price threw his backdoor cutter with precision made a difference. That was the pitch the Yankees feasted on last season. Price got five of his 13 swinging strikes on the cutter.

“Early in the count, trying to steal strikes with that,” Price said. “Late in the count; just keeping that pitch in the back of the hitters’ minds. That helps me a lot.”

Luke Voit homered with one out in fourth inning and the Yankees fans awoke. Three consecutive singles followed and the crowd grew louder. But the Yankees scored only one other run off Price thanks in part to a base-running blunder to end the inning.

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After a rundown, it was Price waiting at the plate to slap the tag on Aaron Hicks.

“That was big for us,” he said.

None of this should be a surprise. Price is 9-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 21 starts since the All-Star break last season. He has been their best starter.

He has been particularly sharp in four starts since coming off the injured list this season, allowing four runs on 13 hits over 18 innings and walking two with 17 strikeouts.

“That’s what I expect of myself,” Price said. “I expect that.”

Now the Sox have a day off before continuing their road trip in Kansas City on Tuesday. Price isn’t scheduled to pitch again until the team returns home and faces Tampa Bay.

It’ll be another important game for a pitcher who now really does hold all the cards.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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