BOSTON — So we’re back to the big question:
Did we just see David Price’s last start as a Ray?
That’s for another time.
Saturday was for a plain fact.
“... you’re only as good as your last game,” Price said.
He said it after he’d given up seven runs against the Red Sox, a team he usually owns, in Game 2 of the ALDS at Fenway Park, two of them coming on a pair of David Ortiz solo home runs, Ortiz’s first multi-homer game in the postseason — and his first two home runs off Price. The Rays, 7-4 losers Saturday, are on the brink of being swept from this series and season.
Price quietly seethed at what he saw as his bad luck. He not-so-quietly seethed at Ortiz standing at the plate after his second home run, down the right-field line. It was the eighth inning, and it was the last pitch Price threw. He burned some more, his back to his manager, as Joe Maddon came to the mound to replace him. Another postseason start down the drain.
“He steps in the bucket and hits a homer,” Price said of Big Papi. “Then he stares at it to see if it’s fair or foul. I’m sure that’s what he would say. As soon as he hit it and I saw it, I knew it was fair. Run.”
Maybe Price was simply as crushed as those Ortiz-deposited fastballs. It was a big night, bright lights, a grand stage, and he fell off it.
“Absolutely I’m disappointed,” Price said. “I don’t know what my stat line was. I know I gave up quite a few earned runs. It stinks, especially at a time in the postseason when you want to go out there and pitch your best. You’re as good as your last game. And tonight I wasn’t very good. Honestly, I thought I was pretty good tonight. That team just beat me.”
So much for the Rays starting pitching leading the way.
Two games in, and the two lefties, 17-game winner Matt Moore and reigning Cy Young winner Price, have been beaten, badly, both giving up seven earned.
But was this Price’s last stand as a Ray?
Price considered the future the other day. He said he was focused on his team’s playoff ride, but did say, future wise, “Those thoughts have crossed my mind, but they haven’t in a couple of weeks. And that’s good. I want those thoughts to stay away. I want to enjoy my time here.”
You’re only as good as your last game.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Price’s last game ranked as one of his finest moments as a Ray: that complete-game win in the tiebreaker at Texas, which was a playoff game disguised as 163. Price was magnificent, and it helped erase some of the memories of his 2013 struggles, or that he was 0-3 in the postseason as a Rays starter.
Then came Saturday.
And against the Red Sox. The Red Sox, whom Price, as a rookie, finished off in the 2008 ALCS to help send the Rays to the World Series ... the Red Sox, who Price was 10-6 against with a 2.93 ERA in 20 career starts ... and at Fenway, where he was 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA. In May, Price won two games in Boston in six days, part of the series broken up by rain.
Maybe Price should have known it wasn’t his night right off the bat, in this case the bat of Sox lead-off hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, a bat Price broke in the first inning — only the ball looped into right field. He later came around to score. Naturally. Ortiz’s first homer then made it 2-0.
Or maybe it was when Price jammed Ellsbury two innings later, after Boston catcher David Ross led off the inning with a dinky double off the Green Monster. Ellsbury half swung, and the ball carried just over Evan Longoria’s head at third and went dribbling down the line. Double, RBI.
“They had some broken-bat singles, some broken-bat doubles, they had some 305-foot fly balls go for doubles and triples, and that’s part of pitching in this park,” Price said. “It’s something I’ve done extremely well. Tonight wasn’t my night.”
The fact is, Price didn’t get it done. He didn’t come close to what he’d done in Texas, or against the Red Sox most every time out.
Consider lefties Ellsbury and Ortiz. Going into Saturday, Ellsbury was just 7-for-34 (.206) against Price, while Ortiz was 8-for-37 (.216) and not one homer. They went 5-for-8 with three RBIs in Game 2, including those homers.
Price had given up only two homers to left-handed hitters all season.
You’re only as good as your last game.
Right now, Saturday is David Price’s last game.
But as a Ray?
He was asked if that had crossed his mind.
“No,” he said.
End of interview.
Who knows what it’s the end of, really.