ATLANTA: We have all dreamed of building a time machine, of reversing time’s inexorable march forward and going back to correct our mistakes or to prove what we’ve learned. To do it again, but better.
And while time machines may remain the domain of H.G. Wells or Doc Brown, David Price was afforded a kind of opportunity to go back and redeem himself Tuesday night.
Five days after he blew a four-run lead to a slumping offensive team, Price made sure it didn’t happen again.
Handed an early four-run advantage for the second straight start, the left-hander tied a career-high with 14 strikeouts in Boston’s 11-4 laugher over the Braves at Turner Field – the last game the Red Sox will every play in this stadium.
After Boston scored four times in the top of the first inning, Price found himself in nearly the exact same scenario as he did last Thursday at home against the Rays. Then, he couldn’t protect a 5-1 lead, eventually leaving in the fourth inning of a difficult 12-8 loss. Now, he struck out 14 Braves in becoming the first Red Sox starter to visit the eighth inning this season.
“I needed it,” Price said, “to go out there and throw the baseball the way I’m capable of.”
Your opinion of Price’s start evolved as the night progressed. He stumbled early, and his velocity was down (though still above 88, we might add). Might there still be reason for concern for the ace left-hander?
He settled in and avoided serious damage in the fourth. But this is the Braves we’re talking about – a team that has lost 16 of 20 this season and whose collective OPS sits below .600. Is it really impressive to sneak by them?
And then you forgot about all those qualifications and just watched Price go to work in the later innings. He picked up steam as the night went on, striking out three in the sixth inning, two more in the seventh and then the side again in the eighth. The Braves collected one hit off him over his last four innings.
“From the fifth through the eighth, that’s as good as we’ve seen in a while,” manager John Farrell said. “He was outstanding.”
Price owns 46 punchouts in just 29 2/3 innings for the season. That’s a rate of 13.96 per nine innings, which would be the best in major-league history for a starting pitcher. Two guys who went into the Hall of Fame last July, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, couldn’t match that clip.
“It seemed like he was striking everyone out,” Travis Shaw said.
“I executed when I was ahead and was able to put guys away when I had the opportunity,” said Price, before adding he didn’t care about strikeouts.
Price recorded five different 1-2-3 innings, and none of the six hits he surrendered went for extra bases. Although his ERA sits at 5.76, his FIP is down to 2.22, suggesting he’s pitched better than the results so far, largely thanks to those strikeout numbers.
Shaw provided two key blows for the Boston offense — a three-run homer in the first inning and a two-run double in the ninth.