CLEVELAND — David Price finally walked off the mound to a standing ovation in October.
This wasn’t the one he craved, though.
Cleveland’s fans derisively cheered Price’s exit in the fourth inning as the Indians roughed up the left-hander and beat the Boston Red Sox 6-0 on Friday to take a 2-0 AL Division Series lead.
Price was convinced this time would be different than with Tampa Bay, Detroit or Toronto, the three teams he pitched for in the playoffs over the past three seasons. But nothing has changed and now he must face the wrath of Red Sox Nation, which will undoubtedly remind him Boston isn’t paying him $217 million over seven seasons to crumble when the stage grows.
Lonnie Chisenhall connected for a three-run homer in the second inning off Price, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings and looked at the grass as he walked to the dugout as Indians roared.
Afterward, Price said he’s counting on another chance.
“I know my number is going to be called again to pitch another game in 2016,” he said. “I want it. I’ll be ready. If they need me, I’ll be ready for Game 4 because I didn’t throw a lot of pitches today. I take a tremendous amount of pride in what I do and want to establish myself in the postseason. I’ve got two wins in the playoffs. I just haven’t got one as a starter.”
Showing no signs of a late-season leg injury, Corey Kluber limited the AL East champions to three hits over seven innings as the Indians moved within one win of returning to the AL Championship Series for the first time since 2007.
David Ortiz and the Red Sox hope they can start to turn around the series on Sunday when Clay Buchholz starts Game 3 at Fenway Park or their season will be over and Big Papi’s career will be done.
Ortiz went 0 for 4. He and Dustin Pedroia — Boston’s two biggest stars — are both 1 for 8 in the series.
“We’ve kind of lost who we are,” said Pedroia, who let an easy double-play grounder slip through his legs. “We’re the Boston Red Sox. We should dictate the tempo of the game and dictate how things play out. Obviously, our backs are against the wall and we have zero room for error. But I don’t think any of us are ready to go home for the year.”
Price came in 10-2 in his career against the Indians, including a 5-0 mark at Progressive Field.
But that didn’t mean anything to these Indians, who strung together four straight hits — three of them soft singles — to put him in a 4-0 hole after just two innings.
That’s all Kluber needed. Making his first postseason start, the Cy Young Award candidate had little trouble with the Red Sox, who missed a chance to do some damage against him in the fourth.
Kluber created the jam with two walks before getting Ortiz to swing at the first pitch on pop out to short. Ortiz slammed his bat to the ground in frustration and Boston’s anxiety grew when Kluber struck out Hanley Ramirez looking for the final out.
The Red Sox only got one runner to third and
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Ortiz did was not available to the media following the game. His locker was already empty when the clubhouse opened.
This is his final playoffs as the 40-year-old will retire despite having an MVP-caliber season. This hasn’t been a typical October for him so far, but it’s not for any lack of effort.
“David is going to give you what he has, and sometimes that hasn’t been 100 percent in terms of health,” manager John Farrell said. “But you know what, our mentality is there’s no tomorrow, and I think he’s showed that.”
Buchholz bounced in and out of the rotation during the regular season, but will start with the season on the line — as Pedroia predicted.
“I’ve been telling ‘Buck’ all along that he’ll be on the mound for our biggest start of the year,” Pedroia said, cracking a smile. “He would always say, ‘I know.'”
Boston has been in this spot before. The Red Sox lost the first two games of the 1999 ALDS in Cleveland, but won the next three. . Price has allowed at least two earned runs in 10 straight playoff games, matching Andy Benes’ record. … RF Mookie Betts went 0 for 2 and was hit by a pitch on his 24th birthday. . Boston and Cleveland are battling in the ALDS for a record-tying fourth time. … Boston has been shut out seven times in the playoffs, twice by Cleveland. . RHP Joe Kelly has struck out a batter in eight consecutive postseason outings, dating to the 2012 NLCS with St. Louis. . Boston does not have an extra-base hit and is batting .200 with four walks in the series.
Red Sox: Buchholz had a 6.35 ERA in his first 10 starts and was demoted to the bullpen. He has tweaked his mechanics and strengthened Farrell’s trust by pitching six innings of one-hit ball in his last regular-season start.
Indians: Josh Tomlin lost to the Red Sox on Aug. 15, allowing three runs in 7 2/3 innings.