NEW YORK -- In this age of statistical baseball data, there is a seemingly endless supply of numbers to support virtually any subjective claim.
Don't think someone has played well defensively? You could find reams of stats to back your hypothesis.
Believe that a hitter has actually performed better (or worse) than the "traditional" numbers suggest? There's evidence to help you make your point.
And while there's no shortage of numbers to remind you that David Price hasn't pitched nearly well as the Red Sox had hoped when they signed him to that landmark seven-year, $217 million last offseason, they're really not necessary.
Yes, you could highlight the 4.36 ERA, the most damning number of all. Or the 1.231 WHIP, the highest of his career since his first full major-league season in 2009.
Need more? The 16 homers allowed, which are on pace to be the most allowed in his career. The .728 OPS against, again, the highest he's ever yielded.
The peripheral numbers aren't any better. His FIP (fielding independent pitching) is the highest since 2010. And his ERA-plus of 103 highlights exactly how average he's been within the context of his ballpark and the rest of the league.
But as conclusive as those numbers are, they're not really necessary. Not if you've been watching Price pitch.
He was trumpeted as the No. 1 pitcher the Red Sox so obviously lacked last season, when their rotation ranked in the lower third in baseball.
Price was going to change things, because he was a true, honest-to-goodness ace.
He's been anything but that, however. And it has nothing to do with the numbers and everything to do with perception and a simple eye test.
Aces don't stumble when their team has won six straight and is going for a series sweep of a struggling rival.
Aces don't trip up when that struggling rival is desperate for a win, in a game the opposing manager suggested was "the most important (July) game we've played in a number of years."
And aces don't consistently get outpitched by the best pitcher on the other side, the way Price has far too often this season.
He's already lost to Madison Bumbgarner in San Francisco. And Chris Tillman of Baltimore. Now, add to that list Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees.
Price wasn't horrendous Sunday night in the Bronx. To his credit, he's only been really poor once -- in Texas -- since he adjusted his delivery in mid-May, when the Red Sox made their previous trip to New York.
He followed that self-correction to a 10-game stretch in which he reliably kept the team in every start, compiling a 2.46 ERA over that run.
But aces don't pitch well for stretches; they consistently dominate opponents and deliver their best efforts when they're most needed. Like Sunday night.
That the Sox missed out on a chance to put the chokehold on the Yankees won't, in the long run, make or break the season. The Yankees aren't a factor in the division, and are unlikely to transform themselves into one in the coming weeks.
And even with the loss, the Red Sox won a road series against a division opponent and are 9-3 in the month of July, heading home for an extended homestand against (mostly) mediocre clubs.
But again, that's not the point. Aces don't let down, or fail to finish a task off the way Price did Sunday.
That's not about analytics or advanced metrics or anything else. That's about what your own eyes are telling you.
It's already established that won-loss record is a far from accurate measure of a pitcher's effectiveness. It neglects to take into account run support, the performance of the bullpen following a starter's exit and a host of other factors.
A more elementary stat, however, is equally as damning regarding Price: The Red Sox are just 11-9 in his 20 starts.
And while it's true that that number can be equally inadequate (run support goes unaccounted for in that measure, too), it gets closer to the bottom line.
Whether it's overcoming sloppy fielding or inadequate offense, or being just a little better than the opposing starters, aces help their teams win games, and Price hasn't done nearly enough of that yet.