Threat of another oh-fer October from David Price puts Red Sox in tough spot

Price: 'My spirits aren't down' (0:48)

Red Sox pitcher David Price discusses his poor start in Game 2 against the Yankees and how he's disappointed but will be ready to go when his number is called again. (0:48)

BOSTON -- After the game, David Price sat in front of his locker in a thin white hoodie, waiting for his turn in the interview room, slumped back in his chair as he scrolled through his phone. I envisioned him reading all the mean tweets about his Game 2 performance, bathing in the pain of another postseason loss, as if it were a way to cleanse his soul of his October sins.

The postseason has been Price's personal palace of misery. He lasted just five outs into Saturday's start for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees, giving up two home runs and three runs. He left to a stinging chorus of boos as he trudged, head down, to the dugout. The Yankees went on to a 6-2 victory to even their American League Division Series at a game apiece.

The losing pitcher doesn't usually go to the interview room. That's reserved for the managers and the stars of the game. Price could have addressed the media in the cramped clubhouse underneath the stands at Fenway Park, answered a few question in hushed tones, but it made sense for him to give a more public assessment of his performance.

"It's tough," he admitted. "You know, just after we won Game 1 to go out there and have that opportunity to go up 2-0. And to throw the baseball the way that I did, it was definitely tough. But my spirits aren't down, my confidence isn't down. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and getting another opportunity."

Everything in the postseason is a small sample of performance. The Red Sox and Yankees both won 100 games and yet a mere best-of-five series will determine which team advances to the AL Championship Series. There is no margin for error, not enough games for the luck to even out or enough starts to prove your merits over the long haul. You have a limited number of games to prove yourself. You get the ball and have to perform.

Price, in his seventh different postseason as a starter with his fourth different team, has failed to do that too many times. At some point, you are what your record says you are.

The numbers paint the picture of misery:

• Price is 0-9 in 10 career postseason starts with a 6.03 ERA, and his team has lost all 10 games.

• That ERA is third worst ever among pitchers with at least 10 postseason starts, trailing only Jaret Wright (7.77) and Tim Wakefield (6.45).

• In 299 career starts, including the postseason, this was the first one Price failed to record a strikeout.

• Then there's this stat, most relevant to 2018: The Yankees have mashed 11 home runs off Price this season, the most one team has hit off a pitcher, postseason included, in the past 10 seasons.

Some will call this a moral failing on Price's part, maybe rip into his mental toughness and all that. That's the easy hot take. Nobody really knows the answer. Price doesn't know the answer. He simply has made too many bad pitches at too many wrong times. When he met with the media on Friday, Price talked about how he was excited to be starting again in the postseason, after pitching in relief last year when he was coming back from an injury. There's no reason to believe he didn't want to be out there.

His troubles began with Aaron Judge, the second batter of the game, who crushed a 1-2 cutter 445 feet over the Green Monster in deep left-center. Gary Sanchez -- Price's personal nemesis -- led off the second inning with line shot over the Monster off another cutter. Sanchez has six home runs off Price, remarkably in just 14 career at-bats. With two outs, Price walked Gleyber Torres on five pitches and then Brett Gardner battled for an eight-pitch walk. Andrew McCutchen knocked in the third run with a loud single high off the Monster. With that, Price was done after 42 pitches, his shortest postseason start.

Price said he didn't execute. Red Sox manager Alex Cora pointed to location. Catcher Sandy Leon said the pitch to Sanchez was actually a good pitch in the right spot, so give credit to Sanchez for a good swing. His teammates are still behind Price.

"He's been great all year," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "This doesn't change that. He's the ultimate competitor. He'll give you everything he has."

Still, there's the question: Can the Red Sox win the World Series if Price doesn't pitch well? He's the No. 2 starter in the rotation behind Chris Sale. While teams are using more relievers for more innings in the postseason, Cora talked before the series about how the Red Sox are built a little differently: "We rely on our starters to go deeper in the game," he said. They need Price to go a lot deeper than five outs

Price isn't scheduled to start again this season, with Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi penciled in for the starts at Yankee Stadium -- for now -- and Sale due back for Game 5 at Fenway if the series is extended. But the bullpen threw 89 pitches in Game 1 and 123 in Game 2. Price might be needed in relief.

Price said he'll be ready to go on Monday.

"I said it last year and I'll say it again: I want to win. I want to win a World Series," Price explained. "And whatever I need to do to help us do that I'm fine with. But I know I'm more than capable of winning games as a starter in October."

Cora said he and his staff will discuss the bullpen plans on Sunday as they prepare for Game 3.

"We'll talk to [Price] and see where we're at and we'll go from there," he said.

Maybe they'll use Price in relief before this series closes. There's an urgency to a best-of-five series two games in, and Price did pitch well in his relief stints last October. This much seems clear, however, especially given the precarious nature of the Red Sox's middle relief: If they're going to win the World Series, David Price is going to have step up and win a postseason game as a starting pitcher.