After his worst start of the year vs. the Yankees, David Price took the mound against the Angels last night and (temporarily, at least) silenced his critics. His throwing hand gave him no issues this time around, and he went 5 innings, allowing 1 run on just 3 hits, fanning 6, and looking in control for most of the night.
Price was dealing to an Angels lineup that entered the game as the best offense in the MLB, according to runs per game. He made the LA hitters look overmatched at times, incompetent at others, with a strong mix of fastballs and cutters (which he located very well throughout) and changeups (which he had a little less control over, but still used effectively).
Facing an inconsistent strike zone by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, Price threw 48 of his 79 pitches for strikes. He located his fastball and cutter especially well on the night, often painting the black with both. His average fastball velocity (48.7% of his pitches) was up from his previous 2 outings at 92.4 mph, and he clocked 94 on the radar gun twice. He threw it up in the zone/above the letters on the first pitch on more than a few occasions, often for an early strike one.
His cutter (38.2%) velocity was slightly down from his season average, but he located it so well (mostly on the hands to right-handed batters, often low and inside, trailing back onto the plate to lefties) that he didn’t need the power behind it. In fact, he logged 4 of his 6 K’s on the cutter, with one particularly nasty one darting in back door and leaving Mike Trout looking helpless.
His changeup (10.5%) was a little off, as Price struggled at times to throw it for strikes and/or get Angels hitters to chase it out of the zone, but he mixed it in effectively to keep their timing off, mostly in the middle of counts and following it with some heat.
Price did give up 4 walks to the stingy LA hitters, but worked his way out of jams well. His only blemish came in the 3rd after his 3rd consecutive long wait between innings caused by the Boston offense racking up hits and runs. He allowed a leadoff walk and then 2 singles for the score, but most important is how he responded. After Albert Pujols drove home Angels catcher Moldanado, Price came back strong to the next batter, recording a dominant 4-pitch strike out to neutralize the threat and end the inning.
With Boston nursing an 8-run lead and the game well in hand, Alex Cora decided to pull Price after only 5 innings, but it was obvious from his performance that he could have gone 1 or 2 more. Overall, it was a very solid outing for Boston’s #2, and a performance he can gain some confidence from and build on going forward.