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David Price redeems himself with ALDS performances

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To say Red Sox starter David Price has been controversial in his first two years in Boston would be an understatement. The lefty inked a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox as a free agent in December 2015.

Price’s 2016 campaign was decent, though under the high bar he had set for himself. He finished 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA and a 228/50 K/BB ratio in a major league-best 230 innings. He started Game 2 of the ALDS last year and struggled, giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Indians.

Price experienced elbow soreness early in spring training this year, so he started the regular season on the disabled list. He didn’t make his season debut until May 29. He also missed nearly two months between July 23 and September 16. All told, he made 11 starts and five relief appearances this past regular season, finishing with a 3.38 ERA and a 76/24 K/BB ratio in 74 2/3 innings.

There were also a couple of off-the-field incidents which muddied Price’s reputation. He got into an expletive-filled spat with the media in June, and also had an issue with Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley.

The Red Sox did not include Price in their ALDS rotation, starting Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz in Games 1 and 2 and going with Doug Fister to begin Game 3. That’s not something one would expect to hear about a starter signed for $217 million.

Price has nevertheless proved valuable out of the bullpen. He tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in Game 2 when Pomeranz could only last two innings. Price gave up a hit and a walk while striking out two. His performance in Game 3, though, might have redeemed himself with the city of Boston. Fister recorded only four outs before manager John Farrell lifted him from Sunday’s game. Joe Kelly pitched 1 2/3 innings before giving way to Price. The lefty went on to toss four scoreless innings, giving up four hits and a walk with four strikeouts. The Red Sox narrowly hung onto a 4-3 lead from the fourth through seventh innings and finally broke out for a six-spot in the bottom of the seventh. They went on to win 10-3, staying alive in the ALDS.

The Red Sox still have to win each of the next two games if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive. It’s a tall order, for sure, but an order still possible because of the yeoman’s work by Price on Sunday. This may prove to be the turnaround moment in Price’s tenure in Boston.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.