'What we learned': Red Sox' 4-0 win over Rays
BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays . . .
1) Despite all of the frustrations, David Price hasn’t been discouraged with his first half play
Although Price ended the first half with one of his best starts not only in a Red Sox uniform, but of his career, the lefty still has a 4.34 ERA heading into the break.
That’s his worst mark since his first full season in the majors when he posted a 4.70 in 2009 -- but only in nine starts to this year’s 19. The closest he’s come to either mark was 3.94 in 2013.
So it’s safe to say Price is in uncharted territory.
“I was never discouraged,” Price said on his first half. “I never lost confidence in my abilities and I know my coaching staff and my teammates didn’t either.”
And while ERA is a good indication of a pitcher’s quality, the metric doesn’t entirely do Price justice.
Unfortunately there really isn’t a stat that does that, because it’s been a Jekyll and Hyde story with Price all year.
While this start is great going into the break, it’s not fair to say this is an indication of where Price is going, given that he’s done this before.
The best thing Boston can hope for is that Price gets a little advice from Rick Porcello, who turned a corner after the break last season and hasn’t looked back.
The difference between a dominant Porcello outing and a rough one has been small -- in a good way. So if Price can copy that trend -- with Sunday’s outing serving as ceiling -- then the Red Sox will be in a significantly better position than they’ve been all year.
2) The first half ended too quickly for Sandy Leon
The All-Star break isn’t just a time for the Home Run Derby or the celebration of the game’s best players I the first half of the year.
It’s also a time for clubs to revisit where they stand in the divisional races and whether or not they are buyers or sellers when the trade deadline comes up.
For the players, it’s time to recharge their batteries and spend time with their families.
Most look forward to it -- especially if they’ve been struggling throughout the first half.
Which probably leaves Sandy Leon in an odd position by himself.
Boston’s catcher is hitting .455 (25-for-55) since joining Boston with the injuries to Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart.
He’s earned himself a starting spot after serving as a journeyman back-up catcher during his professional career.
Now he has the offense to back-up his strong defense, making him the best catcher among the four in the mix for the Red Sox at the moment.
Only problem is he has four days off ahead of him.
So when the break ends, there’s a good chance Boston finds out what the real Leon actually looks like.
3) Brad Ziegler will be a good add to Boston’s bullpen
While that’s easy to say given the score and the team he was pitching against, there’s no doubt Ziegler showed how good he can be.
First off, he struck out two batters. Second he only threw eight pitches.
There’s not much more you can ask for in terms of efficiency.
What was nice to see is he kept the ball down -- more so than other Red Sox pitchers have been. And he displayed his wipeout slider Aaron Hill mentioned Saturday.
“I felt pretty good,” Ziegler said following his Red Sox debut. “Wanted to just try to go out and throw strikes. You’ve got a lead. Be aggressive, make some decent pitches and use our defense.”
It was a refreshing sight to see not only efficiency from Ziegler in his first outing, but to also see him execute in a non-save situation -- something that’s bothered one of his new teammates in the first half of the year.