Last week, David Price shed his postseason albatross and won the deciding game of his team’s American League Championship Series victory over the Houston Astros.
Wednesday night, the left-hander tries to pitch the Boston Red Sox into a 2-0 World Series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I guess ‘lighter’ is a good word, yeah,” Price said before the Red Sox opened the Series with an 8-4 victory Tuesday night. “Yesterday we had media day. … I got to look forward to it for the first time in a long time. Today it’s definitely a weight lifted off of me for sure. Not like food tastes better or anything like that, but it was time.
“And I’m definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing tomorrow.”
Price faces Los Angeles’ Hyun-Jin Ryu as Boston looks to head west needing two more wins to secure its fourth championship in 15 years.
Andrew Benintendi stroked four hits, scored three runs and drove in another and Eduardo Nunez drilled a pinch-hit three-run homer as the Red Sox improved to 8-2 (with four straight wins) in this postseason with their 116th victory of the season.
“From the first at-bat we put pressure on them,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after winning his Series debut. “And that’s what we do.”
Price had been 0-9 in 11 postseason starts before throwing six shutout innings in Houston.
“I see the same guy, I see a teammate taking care of a lot of stuff in the clubhouse, getting ready for his next start,” Cora said. “Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. He talked about it obviously after the clincher, that he doesn’t have to answer questions, but he knows that his next start is a big start. (Tonight) is going to be a big one. So we count on him. His stuff was electric in Houston. His changeup actually played like a split, and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform tomorrow.”
Like teammate Clayton Kershaw, Ryu will make his first appearance at Fenway Park. Kershaw struggled through four-plus innings and took the loss in the opener.
“When I was in Korea, I only saw Fenway Park through TV,” Ryu said through an interpreter. “It took me so long to actually get here at the Fenway Park. My initial reaction to the Green Monster is it’s very tall.”‘
Ryu has had all kinds of problems pitching on the road this season, something that has to change if the Dodgers don’t want to find themselves in a 2-0 hole.
“Obviously, it’s a stadium that I’ve pitched in the most, therefore I feel pretty comfortable pitching in Dodger Stadium,” he said. “And having that run of success definitely builds more confidence. I guess that’s the reason why.”
Price is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers while Ryu has never faced the Red Sox.
Manny Machado, who drove in three runs in the opener, is 12-for-41 with five homers against Price, while Brian Dozier is 9-for-39 with two homers. J.D.Martinez is the only Red Sox player with more than three at-bats against Ryu and he’s 2-for-7.
“We’ve got to keep fighting. Keep doing what they’re doing,” Machado said after Game 1. “(Nunez) came up there, got a clutch hit. You know, you’ve got to tip your cap off. I think Woody (Alex Wood) threw a good pitch there, but he made a better swing. Just come back tomorrow, keep fighting, keep doing what we’re doing.”
Both starting pitchers — Kershaw and Chris Sale — worked four-plus innings in Game 1, the 26th time in World Series history neither starter went more than four innings.
Nunez hit his homer batting for Rafael Devers, but Devers had already stroked an RBI single, making him the first player in major league history with an RBI in each of his first eight postseason games — and the streak matches Lou Gehrig, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard for at least one RBI is eight straight postseason contests.
Martinez avoided a serious injury when he turned his right ankle rounding second base. He remained in the game and said he will play through it.