Less than three weeks after he was booed off the field by the Fenway Park faithful after surrendering three runs in 1 2/3 innings to the New York Yankees, Price has changed the narrative around his postseason shortcomings, as well as his underwhelming tenure with the Red Sox, by delivering when Boston have needed him most.
He finally broke through by winning his first playoff start in the clincher against the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, tossing six scoreless innings in Game 5 to send the Red Sox to the World Series.
If that performance was redemption, Wednesday’s outing to give Boston a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers – in front of many of the same fans that have booed and criticised him – was the icing on the cake.
Price wasn’t as sharp this time around on a blistering cold night at Fenway, but he gamely battled through tough spots – including a bases-loaded jam in the fourth – to only allow two runs over six innings of work for another win.
“It’s huge,” Price said of his effort. “This is the biggest stage in baseball. There’s no other stage that’s going to be bigger than pitching in a World Series game, unless it’s Game 7 of the World Series. To be able to do that, it feels good, for sure.”
Coming through on the biggest stage is what Red Sox Nation envisioned Price would do when he signed a mammoth seven-year, $217 million deal in the winter of 2015.
Instead, the past three years saw Price almost run out of town. Part of that was his own doing as he posted number not befitting a frontline ace, while also being prickly at times with those outside the clubhouse, including a confrontation with Red Sox announcer Dennis Eckersley on a team flight last season. But it’s not as if he’s been bad in the regular season – his 39-19 record and 3.74 earned run average during his time in Boston haven’t been disastrous.
However, postseason performance is what Red Sox players are often judged by, and up until Price’s past two starts, he hadn’t had a signature moment.
Now he does. Not just one, but two in what could be one of the most memorable seasons not only in the team’s history, but in Boston sports history.
The job isn’t done yet, but it’s possible Price doesn’t pitch again this year and the next time Boston fans see him is when he’s on a Duck Boat for the championship parade.
As nothing less than a beloved figure.