David Price redeems himself with ALDS performances

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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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.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.