Price is right as Red Sox host Yankees

BOSTON — David Price has already taken a major step in putting last year behind him — on the mound and in the eyes of the Fenway Park fans.

Thursday, in Boston’s home opener, the left-hander pitched seven shutout innings in his second straight scoreless 2018 start and the home faithful let him know how they felt as he walked off the mound after the seventh inning.

“It was huge,” Price, who faces the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka in the second game of the three-game series with the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, said of the standing ovation. “To go out there and get 21 outs and not give up a run … I didn’t want to tip my cap because I didn’t want to take myself out of the game.

“I didn’t know if I was going to go back out for the eighth. If I’d have been sure, I definitely would have tipped my cap, but I didn’t want to show Alex (Cora) that I was done.”

Tuesday night, the Red Sox hammered the Yankees 14-1 for their ninth straight win — dropping their rivals to 5-6 and already 4 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East.

Now, it’s Price, who suffered through an injury plagued 2017 that included a verbal incident with team broadcaster, Hall of Famer and local favorite Dennis Eckersley, leading to the theory he was one of those guys who doesn’t like pitching in Boston. Making approximately $1 million per start, Price has an opt-out on his deal after this season and there was even talk he would leave a ton of money on the table to walk away.

That talk has been quieted as Price has had a historic start to his season.

He is the first Red Sox pitcher in the last 100 years with seven-plus scoreless innings pitched and four or fewer hits allowed in each of his first two starts of a season. The last Boston pitcher to do that in consecutive starts at any point in the season was Clay Buchholz, who did it in April, 2013.

“He’s pitching all the pitches are on the paint and he’s healthy,” Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez said. “That’s the key for him. Be healthy, that’s the guy we know. That’s the guy we know has won a Cy Young award.”

Tanaka was cruising along with a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning on the verge of going to 2-0 when the Orioles got to him (and the bullpen) and evened his record at 1-1.

“Obviously there is a lot of frustration there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “That’s the inning that you don’t want to give up a run. I was able to manage to grind through six innings with some good defense behind me, but just to give up a homer like that, especially after us scoring a run — it’s disappointing.”

Tanaka is 7-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 14 career starts against the Red Sox, 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven Fenway Park outings. Price is 15-11 with a 4.53 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Newcomer J.D. Martinez is 5-for-9 with two homers, three RBIs, a 1.444 slugging percentage and 2.000 on-base-plus-slugging percentage lifetime against Tanaka, while Eduardo Nunez is 3-for-10. But other Red Sox haven’t been as successful against the right-hander — Jackie Bradley Jr. going 4-for-28, Mitch Moreland 3-for-16, Hanley Ramirez 5-for-24, Brock Holt 5-for-23, Christian Vazquez 2-for-9 and Mookie Betts 7-for-30.

For the Yankees, Gary Sanchez has crushed Price, going 5-for-11 with four homers, nine RBIs, a 1.545 slugging percentage and 2.084 OPS, while Didi Gregorius is 12-for-27 with a homer and five RBIs and Giancarlo Stanton 3-for-10. Aaron Hicks, coming off the disabled list for this game, is 5-for-24 and Brett Gardner 11-for-46 off Price.