Fresh off clinching postseason berth, Sox host Jays
But other than that chapter in his career, Price has tortured those same Blue Jays.
The left-hander, who has been brilliant since the All-Star break, takes a 20-3 lifetime record and a 2.52 ERA to the mound when he faces Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez in the second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
The Red Sox became the first team in baseball to clinch a postseason bid by coming on late to beat the Jays 7-2 Tuesday night — Chris Sale coming off the disabled list to pitch one inning — 26 pitches, two strikeouts — to extend his personal shutout streak to 29 straight frames.
Price, 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA (48 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings) since the break, has already beaten the Jays twice this season, yielding four earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.
He worked 6 1/3 innings in his last start, yielding just two hits and striking out 10 before the bullpen blew the win, leaving his record at 14-6 with a 3.57 ERA. That was his first start after missing a turn because he took a line drive off his pitching wrist.
Price, in the third year of a seven-year contract with Boston, can opt out of the deal after this season, but Tuesday told masslive.com he wasn’t going anywhere.
“Why would I leave here to go to a team that’s not as good as this team?” Price said. “I came here to win. I don’t worry about all the other stuff. Just come here to win. We’re going to have a really good chance to do that.”
He added his relationship with the Boston media, strained in his first two years, had improved.
Sanchez will be making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. His last outing was his best in the first three — three runs, six hits, two walks and eight strikeouts in a no-decision at Tampa Bay.
He is 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA since his return, but was raked for seven runs on nine hits in five innings in the first one.
The right-hander is 4-3 with a 4.36 ERA in 18 games (10 starts) against the Red Sox, 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA in eight games (five starts) at Fenway.
J.D. Martinez is 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run and Andrew Benintendi 3-for-10 (.300) lifetime against Sanchez, but Ian Kinsler is 1-for-13 (.077), Brock Holt 2-for-13 (.154), Xander Bogaerts 6-for-28 (.214) and Eduardo Nunez 3-for-14 (.214).
The current Blue Jays are hitting a cumulative .238 (43-for-181) against Price. Devon Travis is 7-for-16 (.438) with a home run and Teoscar Hernandez 3-for-10 (.300) with a homer against him. But Kevin Pillar is 3-for-22 (.136) with a homer, Russell Martin 5-for-32 (.156), Yangeris Solarte 3-for-16 (.188) and Justin Smoak 4-for-20 (.200) with a home run.
The plan for Sale is to have him pitch three innings as an “opener” against the New York Mets Sunday, then work again in Cleveland the following weekend and likely one more time before the playoffs.
“Good, really good,” Sale said when asked how he felt. “A little erratic, obviously (he hit Kendrys Morales), drove my pitch count up a little bit which is why I didn’t to go out for my second or third inning, but got some good work in and move on from there.”
The Blue Jays had a 2-0 lead behind rookie left-hander Ryan Borucki until the seventh inning — the Red Sox scoring four in the seventh and three in in the eighth to notch their 99th win and clinch the playoff spot.
Sale only pitched a one inning, but that gave Borucki a chance to pitch against one of his idols.
“I grew up watching (Sale) with the White Sox and, for me, I was the same kind of pitcher — I was really tall and skinny like how he was … and just kind of slung it, didn’t really have much mechanical work going,” Borucki, an Illinois native, said. “Really just trying to go out there and throw, and that’s what I did.”
Manager John Gibbons said before the game that Marcus Stroman’s dreadful year — 4-9, 5.54 ERA in 19 starts — could be over because of a blister.
“You won’t see him probably pitch, I wouldn’t think,” Gibbons said. “But he might. He’s getting a little far removed from last time, when he went on the DL with it. He threw a side (session), pitched a game and it’s almost a month now. Now he’s going to have to build back up, and I don’t know how smart that would be. For what?”
The Jays placed Russell Martin on the paternity list prior to the game.