Red Sox's Price: I need new approach vs. Yankees
With the home runs and earned runs piling up in Sunday night’s 11-1 loss at Yankee Stadium, Price knew that the plan he implemented in this latest outing against his team’s biggest rival simply didn’t work.
“It’s time for me to kind of go back to that drawing board and kind of reinvent myself against these guys,” the 32-year-old left-hander said.
Across just 3 1/3 innings in Sunday’s blowout loss, Price surrendered eight runs on nine hits. He allowed the Yankees to hit five home runs on their way to a six-homer night. It was only the fifth time in the past 100 seasons that the Yankees had that many home runs in a game against the Red Sox.
The five long balls Price gave up also set a career high for him. The most he had ever allowed in a game was three. The last time he did that was in September 2016 — also against the Yankees.
“[Sunday] was one of those that he wasn’t at his best, and they were at their best, obviously,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Perhaps the most dialed-in Yankee was switch-hitting center fielder Aaron Hicks, who recorded the first three-homer game of his career. He paced an offensive attack that was powered by six home runs overall. This was the third time a Yankee had hit three homers in a game against the Red Sox. Lou Gehrig and Mark Teixeira also accomplished the feat.
Two of Hicks’ home runs came against Price. It was after the second that was driven into a protective netting covering Monument Park beyond the center-field fence that Cora hopped out of the dugout to replace the starter.
“If you take a look at the game, it seemed like the righties decided not to swing at the inside part of the plate,” Cora said, referencing the Yankees’ patience with Price.
It appeared to Cora that they wanted to make him pitch away or out over the plate.
Price detected that, too.
“They, for the most part, they laid off of that cutter that was just in off the strike zone,” Price said. “That’s a pitch I’m looking for action on, and I want swings on that pitch. I didn’t get them [Sunday]. Whenever I’m not getting that, it makes it tough. But I’ve got to do a better job.”
Hicks, who was batting right-handed during both of his home run at-bats against Price, admitted to treating the southpaw like any other left-handed pitcher.
“You’ve got to push and press out over the middle of the plate. That’s with any lefty,” Hicks said. “You’ve got to be able to be stubborn inside and really try to force them out over and just never give up on that inside pitch until when you get two strikes.”
Whatever the tactic that doomed Price, it’s clear he hasn’t been very good against the Yankees of late. In the two starts he has made against New York this season, he has lasted a total of 4 1/3 innings.
His numbers have been abysmal in those brief outings, too. In them, Price has an ERA of 24.92, and he has allowed six home runs, leading to a home run percentage of 22.2 percent.
Against every other team he has faced this season, Price has a 3.31 ERA with only nine home runs, leading to a 2.4 home run percentage.
He’s now 0-2 against the Yankees in 2018 and 9-4 against every other team he has pitched against. It all leads to the question: Why has he struggled so much in recent outings versus the Yankees?
“I’m sure there’s a lot of things,” Price said. “To pinpoint one of them, it’s kind of tough. Just execution in those big spots, that’s something I need to do a better job of.”
Price missed his previous start against the Yankees and had an earlier appearance cut short. A late scratch from his start in the Bronx in May, Price was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome nearly two months ago. That diagnosis came after he failed to make it into the second inning of an outing against the Yankees on a cold night in April at Fenway Park.
He left that game early after feeling numbness in the fingertips on his pitching hand. No injury prevented him from pitching better against the Yankees this time around, he said.
“I’ve never given up five home runs in any start in my career,” Price said. “But I’m going to move forward, and I’m not going to let a bad start define my season. I’m going to keep on pushing forward and be ready to go in five days.”