By Bob Nightengale |
David Price sat in front of his locker Wednesday evening, his back turned to the clubhouse, playing with Xavier, his 17-month-old son, placing headphones on his head, laughing as he rocked back and forth to the music.
It was as if the outside world didn’t exist, and all of the cruelty vanished, as Price discovered something he wondered would ever exist in the city of Boston.
Finally, 1,027 days after signing with the Red Sox, for the biggest contract in franchise history, and playing in a city that tried to run him out of town, he has obtained peace.
Mark it down: Oct. 24, 2018.
This was his signature moment, the tired narrative of being unable to perform in October, shredded and disposed for good, with Price staging his own version of the Boston Tea Party.
This was the night Price was finally accepted, and embraced by Red Sox Nation, with fans screaming his name in adoration, standing and stomping their feet, celebrating his greatness.
Price, who went 10 years without winning a postseason start, listening to all of the noise that he couldn’t win in October, stymied the Los Angeles Dodgers’ powerful lineup.
Price was again the winning pitcher in the Red Sox’s 4-2 victory over the Dodgers, giving them a 2-0 advantage in this best-of-seven series, leaving the sellout crowd of 38,644 rejoicing long into the night.
The next time the Red Sox come back to Boston, it may be for the Duck Boat parade. They have now won 14 of their last 16 World Series games, and the last 10 teams who took a 2-0 lead have won it all.
And of the 11 teams that bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to win the World Series, none of them ever won 117 games, like these Red Sox.
It may not be officially over, but it sure has that feeling.
“It’s huge, this is the biggest stage in baseball,” Price said. “There’s no other stage that’s going to be bigger than pitching in a World Series game, unless it’s Game 7.
“I’m pumped for myself. Pumped for all my teammates and coaches for us to be two wins away. (We’re) 2-0 right now in the World Series, that’s a good feeling.”
When asked how it felt actually pitching at Fenway Park in late October, Price broke into an expansive grin, and laughed.
“Cold,” he said.
Everyone laughed right along with him.
“When it’s cold in April, everybody complains,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “When it’s cold in October, nobody cares.”
Price, who yielded just three hits and two runs in six innings, and is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two postseason starts, was in command virtually the entire evening. The only trouble he encountered was in the fourth when the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs, and came away with two runs.
It turned out to be the last time the Dodgers had a baserunner the rest of the game.
Sixteen batters up, 16 batters down.
“I’m so happy for him and proud of him,” said Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, who broke open a 2-2 tie with a two-out, two-run single in the fifth, “going through all that criticism that he’s been getting here, and to bounce back to what he’s been doing.”
Said first baseman Mitch Moreland: “No one doubted him. Everybody knew what we had. He had that fire in his eyes. These last two outings he’s been unbelievable.”
Really, the Red Sox were happier for Price than themselves, calling him the ultimate warrior, a beloved teammate, who they just knew would come through when they needed him the most.
“We trust him, we love him,” Cora said. “He was amazing tonight. He was into it, too.”
Yes, like the third inning when Price came off the mound, and instead of going to the dugout, summoned home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley, questioning his strike zone. Or like the sixth inning when he got a standing ovation, and was ready to go back out for the seventh, when Cora pulled him. And the final three innings, when he stayed in the 43-degree temperature of the dugout, refusing to find warmth until the game ended.
All the Red Sox know now is that the Dodgers have to beat them two out of three games in Los Angeles simply to bring the series back to Boston. Hardly a worry for a team that is 5-0 on the road this postseason.
And if there is a Game 6, guess who’ll be on the mound?
“He’s the guy we want with the ball in his hand in these situations,” said Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler, “regardless of past performances. I never wanted to face him. And being on his team now, I want him to have the ball.”
Price will be glad to take it one last time, but the reality is that instead of another start, he’s got a World Series championship on his mind.
“This is what I came here for,” Price said. “This is what I envisioned when I signed here. This is everything I wanted.
“Now, it’s here.”
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, USA Today. Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook.