David Price’s full diagnosis isn’t exactly clear. He may have big start-itis, or just Yankee-itis. Perhaps a case of both.
Now, the lefty himself might not think he’s actually sick. Remember that some people just have bad allergies.
But he definitely has all the symptoms of Yankee-itis, with an 8.43 ERA against them since joining the Sox in 47 innings, with 74 hits and 44 earned runs allowed. And no one will believe that diagnosis is wrong until he proves otherwise, not after Sunday’s incontinence.
The combination of Price’s recent success leading into Sunday and the way he was confidently prodding the media made him look like someone increasingly a fit for Boston: a complicated, bold character who’s also effective. The latter part flew out the window on Sunday in an 11-1 rubber-match embarrassment by the Yankees.
Baseball is a sport of variability and randomness. But there’s no coincidence to lean on now. Not one that anyone can believe, anyway.
There's a difference between a bad outing and catastrophe; a line between an off-night and a performance so pitiful that Twitter overflows with trivia detailing the horror’s place in history.
Boston Red Sox
The lefty lasted just 3 1/3 innings and matched a career-high with eight runs allowed. He’s done that five times now in his lengthy career, three times against the Yanks. He never allowed more than three home runs in a game prior to Sunday. But he coughed up five in the Bronx, including two to Aaron Hicks and one to Kyle Higashioka, a guy who was 0-for-21 in his major league career to start the night.
Even if the lefty happened to be tipping his pitches, that would be his shortcoming as well as the team’s.
“It would be easy to say yes [I was tipping], because they hit five homers and eight runs, but I really don't know right now,” Price told reporters in New York. “I can't give you an honest answer about that, but I'll go back tomorrow and I'll look at it and then, I'll know.”
One of the worst nights of his career came after a cocktail of public anticipation. Price’s snark, his recent success — he had a 2.72 ERA in his prior nine starts — and his history with the Yankees added up to a night where he was woozy on national television.
The benefit of the doubt is gone when it comes to these symptoms. Yes, there was still reason to afford him some prior to Sunday.
Although the manager seems to think the pinstripes aren't a root cause.
“It’s just a matter of executing pitches,” Alex Cora told reporters. “He didn’t do it today. He didn’t do it the first time out, so it’s a work in progress. He’ll pitch again probably against them twice. We’ll make adjustments. They’re going to make adjustments and we do feel he can get those people out."
That's possible. But if Price is ever cured, or if somehow there has been a misdiagnosis, he needs to prove it. Questions of Yankee-itis won’t go away until he sees them again, and that won’t be until August at the earliest.