Price sparkles in return to Red Sox rotation, beats Rays 1-0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — David Price is back in the Red Sox rotation and looking, feeling and — more important — performing like one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The five-time All-Star was dominant in his first start since last July, allowing four singles over seven innings of Boston’s 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
Price (1-0), who spent two stints on the disabled list and finished 2017 in the bullpen, struck out five and walked none to help the defending AL East champions rebound from blowing a four-run lead in losing on opening day.
“It felt good. That’s what I know best,” said Price, who threw 76 pitches. “I had success coming out of the pen, but this is what I want to do.”
Rafael Devers snapped a scoreless tie with a single up the middle that drove in Xander Bogaerts, who doubled off Chaz Roe (0-1) leading off the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
A night after scoring six eighth-inning runs to rally from a 4-0 deficit and win the season opener, the Rays only managed to get one runner as far as second base.
Matt Barnes pitched a scoreless eighth for the Red Sox, who won for the first time under manager Alex Cora. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth to finish the combined four-hitter.
“It’s great. A lot of good vibes,” Cora said.
“I’m thinking about my dad, he passed away when I was 13. My mom back home, I bet she’s going nuts right now,” the first-year manager added. “For as bad as it was yesterday, this is awesome, a 1-0 game. I’ve really had both ends of the spectrum. I’m happy, but more happy for (the team).”
Price’s start was his first since July 22 against the Los Angeles Angels. He was placed on the disabled list three days later and worked exclusively out of the bullpen after being activated from the DL in mid-September.
In seven relief appearances, including the postseason, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed just eight hits over 15 1/3 scoreless innings.
Price, the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, pitched for Tampa Bay from 2008 to 2014. He improved to 4-3 in 10 appearances, including nine starts, against his old team.
Blake Snell allowed three hits, struck out two and walked two in 5 2/3 innings, extending a streak of scoreless frames at Tropicana Field to 23 2/3 dating to last September. Roe replaced him with runners at first and third with two outs in the sixth, escaping the jam by striking out J.D. Martinez.
The Rays were held to four hits for the second straight day, the second time in franchise history that’s happened in the first two games of the season.
“We are going to get going offensively,” said manager Kevin Cash, who watched his team rally with help from four walks on opening day. “There is no doubt in my mind. ... We talk about the margin of error (being small) all the time. The hitting will get hot and get going.”
Bogaerts is 6 for 8 (.625) with four doubles and three runs scored through two games.
Meanwhile, Devers has a team-leading three RBIs. The 21-year-old drove in two runs Thursday, becoming the youngest Red Sox hitter to drive in a run on opening day since Dwight Evans In 1973, as well as the youngest to have multiple RBIs in an opener since Bobby Doerr in 1938.
Kimbrel has converted 11 consecutive save opportunities, a streak that began Aug. 5. Friday’s perfect ninth also extended his mastery over the Rays since the start of 2017. The Red Sox closer did not allow a hit or a run in nine games against Tampa Bay last season, striking out 23 and walking one over nine innings.
Red Sox: RHP Tyler Thornburg (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) threw in a minor league spring training game. He missed all of last season. ... LHP Drew Pomeranz (left forearm strain) had a lengthy bullpen two days after a minor league game.
Rays: RHP Nathan Eovaldi had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies in his pitching elbow. “All went well. I think it was consistent with what the MRI and the X-rays showed, probably a little bit better in the fact it was pretty clean whatever was done or taken out,” Cash said.
Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (11-17, 4.65 ERA in 2017) starts Game 3 of the season-opening four-game series. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner went 2-4 with a 3.93 ERA in six starts against Tampa Bay last season, although he was 2-1 with a 1.27 ERA in three starts at Tropicana Field.
Rays: Reliever Andrew Kittredge will start Saturday in the debut of “bullpen day,” part of the team’s plan to use a four-man rotation this season.
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