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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

David Price can’t afford a third straight stinker

Last Saturday, David Price couldn’t last long enough to get the victory in a game the Red Sox won, 15-4.
Last Saturday, David Price couldn’t last long enough to get the victory in a game the Red Sox won, 15-4.(BRIAN DAVIDSON/Getty Images)

Had a quick back-and-forth with my main man, David Price, at his locker Wednesday afternoon. Here’s how it went:

Me: “You said you were ‘searching’ after that bad outing in KC the other night. Did you find what you were looking for?”

Price: “Yup.”

Me: “Can you tell me what you learned?”

Price: “Nope.”

Me: “Is it mechanical?”

Price: “Yup.”

Me: “How did you end up hitting three guys in one inning?”

Price: “I tried to make sure I got the ball in. I just got it too far in.”

Me: “How do you feel about facing the Yankees again later this year?”

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Price: “I feel great moving forward for the rest of the season and great facing the Yankees again, whenever that may be. That’s a team I’ve pitched against a lot in my career, probably more than against any team in the big leagues, maybe with the exception of Toronto. I’ve pitched against both of them a lot and I’ve had some bad games against [the Yankees] a few times. I gave up nine straight hits against them when I was in Detroit in 2015. Nine straight hits. No walks, no sac flies, no hit by pitches, nine straight knocks.”

Me: “Have you been able to tune out the noise around you here in Boston?”

Price: “Yes. I’m still not a subscriber to whatever papers there are. I don’t know the last time I’ve listened to FM or AM radio.”

Me: “Have you heard the guy who does a killer impression of you on The SportsHub (Jim Murray)?”

Price: “No.”

Me: “I know you talked to Jon Morosi (MLB.com) a little about this, any chance you could opt out of your contract with the Red Sox at the end of this year?”

Price: “I’m not going to sit here and say there’s zero percent chance when there’s always a chance of anything, but that’s nothing that I’m thinking about or putting any thought to, or talking to anyone else about. I expect to win and I expect to do that here.”

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Me: “How do you feel about playing here?”

Price: “I don’t have no problem with it. I need to go out there and pitch better.”

Me. “But it seems like you hate it here. Do you hate Boston?”

Price: “I’ve never said I’ve hated Boston or had a problem with the fans. That’s a perception that’s put on me through you guys [in the media]. That’s what that is. It’s like when we were in Minnesota and I said I wasn’t deserving of being an All-Star and didn’t think I should be an All-Star, and then all that crap got put out. It turns into that. So write what you want to write.”

Me: “Do you ever wish you signed somewhere else?”

Price: “No.”

That was it for our interview. Price was professional, polite, and direct. I thanked him for his time and went upstairs to watch the Red Sox knock around the Texas Rangers, 4-2, for their ninth straight victory.

The Red Sox have not lost since Price was routed in Yankee Stadium on July 1. Price was bad in his next start in Kansas City. On Thursday, he returns to the Fenway mound against the Blue Jays.

Sox fans will be waiting.

In this spectacular Sox summer, Price has emerged as the tiny dent on the shiny new Mercedes. He is the red letter C on a pristine transcript of A’s. In a season in which just about everything is going right for the Sox, Price still gives our vaunted Fellowship of the Miserable something about which to complain.

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Caller on Line 1: “Yeah, I love the Red Sox, but I just don’t trust David Price in a big game. He’s soft. He thinks too much. Are we gonna be able to pitch him against the Yankees, or in the playoffs?’’

Host: “Can’t argue with any of that. That’s the $217 million question for the Red Sox in the next few months.’’

As always, there’s an element of piling on when it comes to Price. He’s 9-6 with a 4.44 ERA. So he’s not having that bad of a season.

But our mythical Caller on Line 1 asks the right questions. Can Price pitch against the Yankees again? Can you trust him in the playoffs?

In the nine starts leading into his stinker in New York, Price was 7-1 with a 2.72 ERA. He gave up only three runs in the one game he lost in that stretch. He was finally pitching like the guy that the Sox thought they bought in December 2015.

And then everything unraveled in the Bronx. Pitching on “Sunday Night Baseball,” Price gave up five homers, nine hits, and eight earned runs before Alex Cora mercifully yanked him with only one out in the fourth. By several measures, it was the worst regular-season start of Price’s decorated career.

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The Sox won his subsequent start, 15-4, last Saturday night, but it was not a good night for Price. It was, instead, another new low for the complex southpaw.

Price fell behind, 3-0, in the early innings at KC, only to see his teammates rally to give him a lead with four runs in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, pitching against the worst-hitting team in baseball, Price unraveled again. He gave up a single and hit three guys, tying a big-league record for most batters hit in one inning. Cora was forced to come get him again. Price needed 102 pitches to go 4⅔ and could not pick up a win in a 15-4 game.

Price has never been booed loudly in Boston. He’s never heard any noise like that which was showered on Sonny Gray when Gray was routed by the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. But Price can’t afford a third straight stinker. He needs to get back on board with the rest of his winning teammates.

And he says he has discovered the flaw. And that with all evidence to the contrary, he does not hate it here.


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy