NEW YORK — It’s inevitable the Red Sox will wrap up the American League East before too long. They have pushed through mini-slumps all season long and will again.
But it was clear early on Wednesday night there would be no celebration with David Price on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
Price has been one of the best starters in baseball since the All-Star break, efficient, powerful, and confident. But he cannot shake his problems with the Yankees, who beat the Red Sox, 10-1, before a crowd of 43,297.
Price allowed six runs, four earned, on five hits over 5⅓ innings with four walks and only two strikeouts.
The Yankees took advantaged of the HO scale right field at their ballpark to hit three home runs, two by backup first baseman Luke Voit. The longest was only 343 feet but they counted just as much as the short fly balls to left field that often result in home runs at Fenway Park.
“Any time you give up a home run it’s frustrating,” Price said. “But everybody’s playing in the same park. It’s not like the fences move back when we hit or move forward when they hit. It’s part of it.”
To Price’s point: The Sox have scored three runs in the first two games of the series, not hit a home run, and are 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
The highest-scoring team in the majors has gone cold. The 103-49 Sox have scored 17 runs in their last seven games, hitting .216 with three home runs.
“There’s a few guys struggling, we know,” manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve faced some good pitching, too, lately. It’s a combination of both. I do think that sometimes we’re getting too passive at the plate.”
Since joining the Red Sox, Price is 2-7 with a 7.71 earned run average in 11 starts against the Yankees. In six starts at Yankees Stadium while a member of the Sox, Price is 0-6 with a 9.79 ERA, allowing 13 homers over 30⅓ innings.
Price has faced the Yankees four times this season and been charged with 18 earned runs on 21 hits — nine of them home runs — over 15⅔ innings.
“I expect to go out there and be great every fifth day. It doesn’t matter who I’m pitching against or the ballpark I’m pitching in,” Price said. “It just hasn’t been the case here in Yankee Stadium the past year or two. But I’ll get over it.”
If the Red Sox face the Yankees in the Division Series, it’s a legitimate question whether Price (15-7) should be in the rotation.
But Cora said Chris Sale and Price would be his first two starters in the Division Series regardless of opponent.
“It’s not going to change my mind,” he said.
Miguel Andujar homered with one out in the second inning, flicking a high fastball over the fence in right.
Gary Sanchez walked and Voit singled. With two outs, Aaron Judge grounded to third base and the ball went between the legs of Eduardo Nunez, allowing two runs to score.
Nunez was playing third base for the first time since last Thursday. He missed three games with a sore right knee and was the designated hitter on Tuesday.
Nunez left the game in the ninth inning when his knee became sore again. He will not play tomorrow but Cora said the injury is not serious.
Given what is now a yearlong history of issues with Nunez’s knee, third base remains a weakness.
Voit hit the first of his home runs in the fourth inning. Sanchez walked again in the sixth inning and Voit followed with another home run. He has nine homers in 29 games with the Yankees.
Sanchez was 6 of 12 with five home runs against Price in his career and the strategy was to pitch carefully to him. Voit foiled that.
Joe Kelly followed Price to the mound and was hit hard, giving up singles to Andrew McCutchen and Judge before Aaron Hicks ripped a two-run triple to right field.
Kelly has allowed seven runs on 10 hits in his last 4⅔ innings.
Luis Severino, ostensibly the ace of the Yankees, came into the game 4-6 with a 6.35 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break. He allowed one run on six hits over seven innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
Severino (18-8) walked Mookie Betts leading off the game before J.D. Martinez singled with one out and Betts raced to third. The Sox were set up for a big inning.
But Xander Bogaerts, a .350 hitter with runners in scoring position, popped up to shortstop. Mitch Moreland then grounded back to the pitcher.
The Sox did not advance another into scoring position until Nunez doubled to left field leading off the fifth inning. Nunez scored when Sandy Leon singled to right field.
The hit snapped an 0-for-30 skid dating back to Aug. 23 for Leon. It was his first run batted in since Aug. 14.
The Sox were not inspired as Severino retired the side from there. The leadoff hitter reached four times against Severino and scored once.
Those champagne bottles are going to get dusty at this rate. The Sox now send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound against Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday.