Sox not finished yet as Price, bats batter Houston in Game 3

October 9, 2017

The Red Sox are suddenly very much alive, having received an iron lung in the form of David Price, and even the guys in uniform seemed surprised by how well they played so close to elimination.

Behind four scoreless relief innings by Price, the Sox out-slugged the hot bats of the Houston Astros and walked away from Fenway Park with a 10-3 win in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.

“We played with more of a sense of urgency,” said outfielder Mookie Betts, who went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts but was everywhere in right field, robbing Josh Reddick of a three-run homer in the second.

Betts and Co. were outscored 16-4 and looked completely overmatched in the first two games. They fell behind 3-0 in the first inning of Game 3, when starter Doug Fister was knocked around, and John Farrell — who was answering questions about his job security earlier in the day — was into his bullpen after just 11⁄3 innings.

The boos were long and heavy from the Fenway crowd as Fister walked off the mound. The park was quiet as Joe Kelly took over.

“I thought, ‘We’re going to have to scramble here,’ ” Farrell said.

Kelly walked a tightrope for 12⁄3 scoreless innings, the Sox took their first lead of the series with three runs in the third, and then Price — one of the only pitchers who has contained this Astros offense — threw 57 pitches in four excellent innings before the Red Sox offense exploded for six runs in the seventh.

Suddenly, the Red Sox look like a playoff team, even if it took them about 20 innings to play the part.

“We understand it’s kind of a do-or-die and go-home situation,” Betts said. “I think every game we should play with this sense of urgency.”

Betts might be onto something there, but today’s Game 4 could bring a totally different set of challenges. A steady dose of rain is in the forecast, when the Sox are scheduled to host the Astros at 1 p.m.

Price said he’d be available for Game 4, but that seems unlikely after his longest outing since July 22, when he was still a starter. It would also be a stretch to ask for another inning or two out of Kelly, who has thrown 22⁄3 scoreless this series.

Those two have 91⁄3 scoreless innings between them. All other Red Sox pitchers have given up 19 runs in 152⁄3 innings.

Rick Porcello starts Game 4 against Charlie Morton.

“I would anticipate we would have a number of guys available,” Farrell said. “Price unlikely, but I would say that Chris Sale would be available as well. So we’ll find a way to get through it again.”

Sale could start a potential Game 5 on Wednesday in Houston, though that could turn to Eduardo Rodriguez or Drew Pomeranz should Sale be needed in Game 4.

But the Sox, who’ve looked so lifeless, proved that their best starting pitcher this postseason is their offense.

“We were down three runs, so we could have easily just thrown in the game,” said shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who is 0-for-14 this series, “but I don’t think that’s the type of team that we are. We just continue to battle until we find a way.”

Hanley Ramirez, who jumped out of the dugout with a Celtic-green flag that read “BELIEVE IN BOSTON” during pregame introductions, went 4-for-4 with three RBI.

The big inning was the third, when Mitch Moreland doubled and Ramirez singled with two out to knock Brad Peacock out of the game. Rookie Rafael Devers then smacked his first postseason homer, launching a hanging slider from lefty Francisco Liriano deep to right field, twirling his bat in one hand while smiling big on his way to first.

In the seventh, the Red Sox offense looked as healthy as it has all year. With the bases loaded, Ramirez lined a two-run double to center, Devers blooped an RBI single to left, and Jackie Bradley Jr. cranked a three-run shot to right that popped in and out of Reddick’s glove on its way to the seats.

Surprise, surprise. The Red Sox are in this thing.

“We don’t want to relax,” Bradley said. “Everybody always talks about, ‘You need to relax.’ Relax for what? We’re down 2-0, 2-1 now. We’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to stay on them.

“We played a very good game. This is what we needed. We needed to be able to come back out and prove that we have a lot of fight left in us. This is not going to be easy. We’re not looking for it to be easy. We’ve got to play to the very last out as hard as we can.”