BOSTON — David Price believes he’s finally become the pitcher the Boston Red Sox were looking for when they signed him.
Price pitched seven solid innings, J.D. Martinez hit his major league-leading 38th homer after Boston jumped to a quick lead and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 on Saturday night for their 17th victory in 20 games.
Signed to a seven-year, $217 million deal before 2016, the lefty feels as if he’s finally paying off.
“Getting back to myself. I definitely changed a lot of stuff up here the last 2 ½ years,” he said. “To be able to get back to the pitcher that Boston signed, it’s about time.”
Price (13-6) gave up two runs on five hits, striking out eight, walking two and hitting a batter. He is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in his five starts since the All-Star break.
With ace lefty Chris Sale going on the 10-day disabled list Saturday for the second time in nearly three weeks, Price doesn’t see any additional pressure to fill the void.
“I’m making $32 million,” Price said. “It don’t change what I’m doing. I’ve got enough pressure on me.”
And he’s responded.
“We expect him to go deep into games and give us a chance to win and he’s been doing that,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Mitch Moreland added an RBI double during Boston’s four-run first inning. The Red Sox, who own the majors’ best record, improved to a season-high 52 games over .500 and maintained their 10 ½-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
C.J. Cron hit a two-run homer for the Rays. Tampa Bay fell to 4-11 against Boston this season.
Tyler Glasnow (0-1), making his fourth start since being acquired from Pittsburgh at the non-wavier trading deadline, gave up five runs, four earned, and three hits. He walked three and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings.
“Very encouraging. The first inning was such a fluke for him, for all of us. Just a lot of odd things,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “His strike-throwing kind of eluded him for whatever reason, but he’s got to take a lot of positives from that outing.”
The Red Sox took advantage of Glasnow’s wildness to jump ahead 4-0 in the first. Moreland’s RBI double made it 1-0 before Martinez and Xander Bogaerts walked to load the bases. The righty then walked Ian Kinsler, forcing in a run.
First baseman Jake Bauers then fired Brock Holt’s grounder into left field attempting a force at second and two runs scored, making it 4-0.
“Just came in, didn’t feel that great from warmups to the first inning,” Glasnow said. “Just kind of realized that this is what I had today and I needed to just go out and compete as hard as I can and get out of that fix-it mode.”
In the third, Martinez homered into Boston’s bullpen.
Cron’s homer cleared the Green Monster and left Fenway Park completely in the sixth.
Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 37th save.
Tampa Bay’s Carlos Gomez advanced to third when it was left uncovered on a popup that was caught between first and the plate in the first inning.
“That was probably my part to go cover third base right there and I didn’t do that,” Price said.
Not heads up
With Kinsler on second and Holt on first in the first, Kinsler got caught trying to steal third too quickly when Glasnow stepped off and got him in a rundown. Holt was unsure where to go, standing between first and second before he was tagged out in a rundown for an inning-ending double play.
Three innings later, Tampa Bay’s Tommy Pham was doubled off second on a fly ball to the left-field warning track.
The Red Sox improved their home record to a majors’ best 44-15.
Rays: C Jesus Sucre missed his fourth straight game with a sore right wrist.
Red Sox: Sale was placed on the DL with mild inflammation in his left shoulder. “It’s definitely less than it was last time,” Sale said. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (DL since July 15, sprained right ankle) is scheduled to make a rehab start on Monday.
Rays: Cash said after the game that RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.63 ERA) would start Sunday’s series finale.
Red Sox: RHP Hector Velazquez (7-0, 2.77) will take Sale’s turn.
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