The Boston Red Sox, fresh off of a tumultuous 2015 campaign in which not a single starting pitcher established an aura of consistency, figured that by handing left-handed ace David Price a seven-year/$217 million deal this past offseason that they could relax their worrying heads at least once every five days.
Price ails once again
However, Price (4-1) has now allowed five runs or more in four of his first seven starts with the ball club, his ERA skyrocketing to 6.75, the worst mark in the majors among pitchers with at least 40 innings of work. The New York Yankees torched him for six earned runs on seven hits and three walks in 4.2 innings en route to an 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Price has now been touched for 12 earned runs in his last 11.2 innings of work, all of which came against the embattled Yankees, who have now won three of their last four games after dropping six consecutive. The free agent splash has now yielded the most earned runs (31) of any pitcher in the MLB despite striking out the third-most batters (53) to date.
The New York bats have been silent for the majority of their 11-17 start, with the team scoring the second fewest runs (92) while holding the worst OPS (.658) of any American League squad.
New York offense resurrects itself
However, the offensive attack awoke on Saturday afternoon, with the runs coming in bunches from the bottom of the order. The last three batters in the Yankees order (third baseman Chase Headley, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and catcher Austin Romine) tore the cover off of the ball throughout the day, faring a combined 7-for-11 with five RBI and three runs scored.
Headley, who has batted a horrendous .169 over the course of the season, went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs, while the .235-hitting Gregorius went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run. Romine, filling in for starter Brian McCann, also performed admirably, going 3-for-4 with two RBI.
New York was pioneered by starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on the other side of the docket, with the 2-2 right-hander pitching eight strong innings while allowing just two earned runs on six hits, striking out six while avoiding issuing a single walk.
Eovaldi recovered from allowing an early RBI single to Red Sox left fielder Brock Holt in the second inning, with right fielder Mookie Betts (2-for-4) the only Boston batsman to reach base more than once as the Red Sox had just two at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees knotted the score at one run apiece in the third inning when Romine doubled home Headley with one out before breaking the game open in the following inning.
Second baseman Starlin Castro and first baseman Mark Teixeira opened the bottom of the fourth frame with consecutive singles before a one-out walk was worked by Dustin Ackley to load the bases.
Headley proceeded to fly out to right, however, Gregorius answered the bell with two outs, ripping an 0-2 offering from Price down the right field line for a bases-clearing double.
Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. then sliced the deficit to 4-2 with a solo shot, his third home run of the season, off of a Eovaldi off-speed pitch with one out in the top of the fifth.
However, New York was quick to double their advantage in the bottom portion of the inning. After center fielder Aaron Hicks and Castro worked one-out walks, Price was able to fan Teixiera and rope designated hitter Carlos Beltran into a 2-2 count on the ensuing at-bat.
Beltran has long been comfortable operating in two-strike counts, though, and this instance was no different. The 39-year-old proceeded to lace a 91-mph fastball from Price down the left field line and off of the wall, plating both runners for a two-RBI double to increase the lead to 6-2, and chasing the scuffling Price from the ballgame.
The Yankees then added to the gap in the sixth inning while facing reliever Matt Barnes. After Headley struck out looking, Gregorius and Romine chopped a pair of base hits and left fielder Brett Gardner walked to load the bases. Hicks then plated Gregorius with an RBI sacrifice fly to right, pushing the lead to 7-2.
New York was not finished there. With relief pitcher Sean O'Sullivan dealing in the bottom of the eighth for Boston, Headley opened up the stanza with a single to right and was plated by Romine, who roped an RBI double to deep left center, with one out.
The 17-13 Red Sox will look to salvage the series with a win on Sunday night as knuckleballer Steven Wright (2-3, 1.67 ERA) challenges the struggling Luis Severino (0-4, 6.31 ERA).