David Price trudged from the mound to the dugout, down the steps and straight into the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. All around him, the jeers and boos of two fan bases cut through the steamy air, but Price gave no visible reaction.
It was only the fourth inning, but Price’s latest disaster in the Bronx was over. He had just surrendered a fifth home run to the Yankees — a career worst for him — and the second of the night for Aaron Hicks, who added another later to become only the second Yankee to hit three home runs at the new Yankee Stadium.
Price also allowed first-inning homers to Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, who blasted a three-run shot to right field, and gave Kyle Higashioka the first hit of his career in the fourth — another long home run to left.
Within moments of returning to the air-conditioned calm of the clubhouse, Price said he had moved on from abysmal performance against the Yankees, his new nemesis. His performances against the Yankees have become so bad that Price said he would scour videotape for evidence that he may be tipping his pitches.
“I’ll look at that tomorrow for sure,” Price said.
Even if the Yankees did not know what was coming, it seemed that way. In the last game of a strange three-game set in which each game was a blowout, the Yankees hammered the Boston Red Sox, 11-1, on Sunday night behind a terrific performance by starting pitcher Luis Severino, who was as good as Price was bad.
Severino allowed only two hits and no runs in six and two-thirds innings to become the first pitcher in the majors to win 13 games this season. He also lowered his earned run average to 1.98, the best in the American League.
The Yankees won the first game on Friday, 8-1, and Boston won the middle game, 11-0, and in all three games the losing pitcher gave up at least six runs.
“Weird series,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said. “Very weird.”
But it was the last two games in particular that bore a striking resemblance to one another, not just because of the similar score lines, or that both starters — Price and the Sonny Gray for the Yankees on Saturday — went to Vanderbilt University.
More pertinent to fans of both teams was the underlying question of whether either would be able to perform against their chief rivals.
On Saturday it was Sonny Gray who gave up six runs in two and a third innings in his latest poor outing against Boston and, like Price a day later, was jeered off the mound. Price on Sunday had his most recent meltdown against the Yankees in the Bronx.
Since joining the Red Sox in 2016 on a seven-year, $217 million contract, Price is 0-5 with a 10.44 earned run average at Yankee Stadium. He is 2-6 against over all against the Yankees since joining Boston and in his 2 starts against them this year, Price has given up eight first-inning runs.
There are times when certain teams pick up clues about what kind of pitch someone is about to throw. Price could not say for sure that was the explanation, but he knew something would have to change soon.
As Cora said, Price is likely to face the Red Sox a couple of more times this season alone, and the Red Sox cannot afford another four-run first inning.
“It’s time for me to kind of go back to that drawing board and kind of reinvent myself against these guys,” Price said.
Price also gave up four runs in the first inning of the April 11 game at Fenway Park, his only other start against the Yankees this year. He complained of numbness in his fingers after that inning and was later found to have carpel tunnel syndrome, leading to speculation that it was the result of playing the video game, Fortnite.
But between that day and Sunday, Price had pitched very well against non-Yankee teams. He went into Sunday’s game with a 9-5 record and 3.66 earned run average over all, but then at Yankee Stadium he was back to his worst.
“We had a good game plan,” said Hicks, who hit two home runs right-handed off Price and one lefty off the relief pitcher Hector Velazquez. “We wanted to attack him early, get him out of the game and get to their pen.”
Hicks became the first Yankee to hit three home runs in a game since Alex Rodriguez in 2015 and the first to do it at home since Curtis Granderson in 2012. The six home runs gave the Yankees 137, the most in the majors and the most ever by a Yankee team before the All-Star Game.
“I look at it as one of those nights when our game plan was on point,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said. “We got some pitches to handle and when we did we put them in the seats.”
With Price pitching against the Yankees, you could almost see them coming.