David Price comes up aces to calm Red Sox's concerns about staff ace

BOSTON -- Exhale.

After back-to-back wretched starts against the New York Yankees left David Price with the worst ERA among American League starters (minimum 30 innings) and Boston Red Sox fans at DEFCON 5, the ace left-hander walked to the Fenway Park mound on Thursday night and calmed the masses with 6⅔ mostly solid innings.

It was almost beside the point that the Red Sox's juggernaut offense kept rolling in an 11-1 throttling of the Houston Astros. (That's 51 runs in the past 31 innings, for those who have lost track, and the third time in franchise history -- and the first since Aug. 24-26, 2007 -- that the Red Sox have scored at least 10 runs in four consecutive games.)

This was all about the peace of mind that comes with a $217 million ace finally pitching more like he's supposed to.

Earlier in the week, Price worked on fixing a mechanical glitch pointed out to him by teammate Dustin Pedroia. And to the untrained eye, it certainly appeared Thursday that Price's hands were closer to moving in their usual marionettelike sync with his knee through his delivery. It was an adjustment that he believed would result in extra oomph on a fastball that was averaging only about 92 mph, down from the 30-year-old lefty's career average of 94.1.

Sure enough, Price's fastball was clocked at mostly 93 and 94 mph, with a few 95s sprinkled in for good measure. The penultimate of his 114 pitches hummed at 94 mph. His first six outs all came on strikeouts, and he fanned 12 overall. He retired the final eight Astros he faced and 12 of the last 13.

It's quickly becoming the Red Sox's trademark to stake their starting pitcher to a lead, having scored 40 first-inning runs in 35 games. Xander Bogaerts gave Price an early cushion with a two-run homer off Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, whose early-season struggles (5.58 ERA in eight starts) aren't dissimilar to Price's.

The Red Sox led 3-1 after two innings, 5-1 after three and broke the game open with Mookie Betts' three-run homer in the sixth, one run in the seventh and two more in the eighth. They won their fifth consecutive game and for the eighth time in 11 games, and they improved to 12-7 at home.

Best of all, though, the Red Sox walked out of Fenway with Price seemingly having regained his mojo.

So, go ahead and exhale, Red Sox fans. Come in off the ledge. At least until Price pitches again on Tuesday night in Kansas City.