❚ David Price, Steve Pearce: Un­likely su­per­heros,

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Ted Berg

USA TO­DAY

LOS AN­GE­LES – Ap­par­ently, David Price can pitch in the post­sea­son. Ap­par­ently, David Price can pitch ev­ery day in the post­sea­son.

Price started and won Game 2 of the World Series. He got two outs in relief in Game 3. He warmed up in the bullpen for a po­ten­tial ap­pear­ance in Game 4. And in Game 5, he turned in his mas­ter­piece, hold­ing the Dodgers to three hits and one run over seven in­nings to carry the Red Sox to a cham­pi­onship­clinch­ing 5-1 win.

“He was dom­i­nant,” World Series MVP Steve Pearce said af­ter the game. “We love when he’s on the mound. When he takes it, he’s a bull­dog. He com­petes. And I couldn’t be any hap­pier for him. It was an awe­some per­for­mance, and he shut one of the best teams down, and he pitched in a game-clinch­ing World Series game. That’s the guy we want on the mound, and he de­liv­ered.”

“He was avail­able the whole time — the whole time — from the Di­vi­sion Series to the Cham­pi­onship Series to the World Series,” man­ager Alex Cora said. “There was a text: ‘I’m ready for to­mor­row. Count on me. Use me.’

“I’m very proud of him.” As re­cently as a cou­ple of weeks ago, few would have imag­ined Price as a 2018 World Series hero. Though long one of the best pitch­ers in the ma­jors in the reg­u­lar sea­son, the 33year-old en­tered Oc­to­ber with a rep­u­ta­tion for post­sea­son melt­downs and did lit­tle to shake it in his first two play­off out­ings.

Af­ter he al­lowed three runs in a 12⁄3-in­ning Game 2 start against the New York Yan­kees in the Amer­i­can League Di­vi­sion Series, Price was greeted with ironic cheers and “M-V-P” chants at Yan­kee Sta­dium. Af­ter a shaky out­ing in Game 2 of the AL Cham­pi­onship Series against the Hous­ton Astros, Price owned a 6.16 ERA and a 0-9 record in 11 ca­reer post­sea­son starts.

But while play­ing catch with Red Sox catch­ing co­or­di­na­tor Ja­son Varitek be­fore Game 4, Price tweaked the po­si­tion­ing of his hands dur­ing his de­liv­ery, a change he said helped cor­rect his tim­ing and al­lowed him to “get that good an­gle on the base­ball.”

On short rest, the left-han­der threw six score­less in­nings in ALCS Game 5 to help the Sox se­cure the AL pen­nant. He main­tained his mo­men­tum in a six­in­ning, two-run win in Game 2 of the World Series and again in the de­cid­ing Game 5. Price now is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA over his last three post­sea­son starts.

“My confidence was never al­tered, through how­ever many sea­sons I’ve been to the play­offs, how­ever many times I’ve failed in Oc­to­ber, how­ever many times I failed in the reg­u­lar sea­son or against the Yan­kees,” Price said. “I al­ways had be­lief in my­self and my abil­i­ties. To be able to come through on this stage and in Oc­to­ber for my­self and for my team­mates, I know I can do it now.”

Price has had a some­what tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship with the Red Sox’s me­dia and fan base since he joined the club on a seven-year, $217 mil­lion free agent deal be­fore the 2016 sea­son. Play­ers with huge con­tracts tend to draw out­sized crit­i­cism, and as re­cently as the ALDS, Bos­ton sports talk ra­dio was abuzz with chat­ter that the Sox should eat most of Price’s con­tract so they could trade him and his post­sea­son strug­gles.

“This is why I came to Bos­ton,” Price said. “This is what I en­vi­sioned ... It took longer than I hoped it would, longer than I ex­pected it to, but to have this feel­ing right now, it was all worth it.”

JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

David Price shows off the World Series tro­phy.

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