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Struggling David Price needs to find solution for missing velocity

NEW YORK -- The Price wasn’t right again, and it’s starting to get troubling.

Red Sox ace David Price continues to get knocked around in his debut season for Boston after signing a seven-year, $217 million deal with the club in the offseason.

The left-hander couldn’t get out of the fifth inning after allowing six runs to the New York Yankees as the Red Sox fell 8-2 before a sellout crowd of 47,822 at Yankee Stadium.

It was the fourth time in seven starts that Price allowed five runs or more. Though he is 4-1 thanks to strong run support, his ERA is now an unsightly 6.75. Maybe $217 million doesn’t buy what it used to?

“My first six or seven starts have sucked,” a clearly disappointed Price said. “It’s not fun. I don’t enjoy it. I’ve got to get better.”

“I know I’m better than what I’m throwing right now."

Price, Red Sox manager John Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis all seem to be at a loss as to why Price isn’t the pitcher he had been for Tampa Bay, Detroit and Toronto, but there’s no denying he doesn't look like the pitcher that was 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA last season and brought a career 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP to Boston.

Price said he is physically sound.

And Farrell said that “the film review, the work he's done between starts, it's not like there's a glaring deficiency or flaw in his delivery. It's more the finishing action to the pitch.”

Willis offered his take.

“Really, we just haven't seen the velocity at this point that he's had before,” Willis said. “It is May 7, so power pitchers tend to get it a little later, and we're starting to get into May now.”

The vintage David Price had a fastball that sat at 94 to 95 mph. This season it's been more like 91 t 93 mph. And that appears to be making a difference.

“I feel like the more velocity that you have, the more mistakes you get away with,” Price said. “Right now, I’m not getting away with mistakes -- or good pitches, for that matter. That’s part of it. They hit some good pitches today.”

Perhaps the most devastating of them was the 0-and-2 changeup he threw to Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius with two out and the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Gregorius ripped it down the right-field line for a three-run double to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Price felt the pitch was a good one and Gregorius deserved credit for reaching down to get it.

“If the fastball velocity is a tick or two higher, there's a little more sense of urgency for a hitter to get on a fastball and now that changeup plays a little better,” Willis said. “His changeup's been phenomenal, but [there’s] maybe not quite the same difference of speed because of a little bit of lack of fastball velocity.”

Price threw his changeup more than usual on Saturday, and Farrell sounded like he believes the 30-year-old is doing something different because his fastball isn’t where it normally is.

“He's having to mix, change speeds,” Farrell explained. “I would venture to say he recognizes that where the velocity is today -- 91 to 93 -- is not what he's been accustomed to” and that he is trying to use his secondary pitches “to set up or make his fastball more effective.”

Price gave up big hits on several other two-strike counts and issued a pair of walks in front of Carlos Beltran’s two-run double in the fifth. Farrell thought he couldn’t find a pitch to consistently finish hitters off with on Saturday.

As bad as it seems right now, no one has lost faith that the authentic Price is right around the corner. None more so than Price himself.

“He expects a lot of himself and more so than you know we or even the fans expect of him. Maybe everyone doesn’t really realize that, how much he truthfully does care,” Farrell said. “And when you don’t perform up to your own expectations, it is frustrating. But he’s a hard worker, and we’re going to get it figured out.”

As Price added, “[The difference] is something I’ve got to figure out. That’s something I definitely take pride in and feel like I’ve done extremely well throughout my career: Being able to make adjustments on the fly, whether it’s pitch-to-pitch or game-to-game or day-to-day.

"That’s something I’ve done extremely well, and it’s something I need to do right now.”