BOSTON (AP) — David Price worked hard over the past week to fix a glitch in his mechanics he felt held him back during some recent starts.
If Thursday’s effort against the Astros is any indication, he’s well on his way to regaining his mojo.
Price struck out 12, Mookie Betts hit a three-run homer and Xander Bogaerts had a two-run shot to help the Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 11-1 on Thursday night for their season-high fifth straight win.
“I allowed myself to get into my power position,” Price said. “It’s something I’ve worked on for the last four days leading up to this start. It was a big key for me and it helped out a lot.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. singled twice and extended his hitting streak to 18 games, tying the longest streak in the major leagues this season. Bogaerts had three RBIs.
Thursday was supposed to be all about the first matchup between reigning Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and Price, last year’s runner-up.
Boston’s bats ensured Price (5-1) easily took this one. He rallied after a slow start and allowed a season-low one run over 6 2/3 innings, dropping his ERA to 6.00.
Price registered as high as 95 mph on his fastball and also had his changeup and curveball working. He said the refinement of his delivery certainly played a role in increased velocity.
“It’s definitely a part of it,” he said. “Just allowing my leg to get where I’ve always done it. That’s a big thing.”
Manager John Farrell liked what he saw.
“Just a better delivery. Better stuff,” he said.
Keuchel (2-5) gave up 10 hits and eight runs. He has allowed five or more earned runs in four of his last five starts, something he did only three times last year.
“Five runs on two swings, that’ll do you in,” he said. “Especially with a pretty good pitcher over there. I know he’s been scuffling, but he figured it out tonight. It’s just disappointing because I’ve been feeling better and I know the team’s been looking to me to do some good.”
The night started out with mixed results for Price. He gave up two singles to open the game but struck out six batters over the first two innings.
Houston threatened early despite coming off a 16-inning win against Cleveland on Wednesday night. The Astros were positioned for big innings but left five runners on base over the first three innings with only one run.
As they have in recent games, Price’s teammates had his back offensively.
Bogaerts hit his two-run blast over the Green Monster in the first inning. Bradley then extended his streak with an RBI single up the middle in the second inning that put the Sox up 3-1.
Since April 11, Boston has outscored opponents 40-11 in the opening inning and has hit 28 homers in its last 17 games. The Red Sox also have hit home runs in 13 straight games.
Astros: Jason Castro (paternity list) is expected to rejoin the club Friday after he and his wife, Maris, welcomed a son, Brady, early Tuesday morning.
Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said there isn’t a scheduled date for the next rehab start for RHP Joe Kelly (right shoulder impingement). There also hasn’t been discussion of when he might rejoin the major league squad. Farrell expects to sit down with Kelly in the next few days to make that determination. … LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right patella subluxation) is scheduled for his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.
Price now has posted 10 or more strikeouts in five of his last six games against Houston, including in each of his last four since June 2014. His five double-digit strikeout efforts against Houston since it moved to the American League in 2013 are more than any other pitcher.
For the third straight game, “Free Tom Brady” chants broke out sporadically during the game in the Fenway Park crowd. The New England quarterback’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension was recently reinstated.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (0-0) will make his season debut Friday night. The 22-year-old will be activated from the disabled list after recovering from right shoulder soreness.
Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (3-3, 1.52 ERA) is coming off his first career complete game in a win over the Yankees. The knuckleballer will be making his seventh start of the season.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower