Price looking like an October weapon in 'pen

Price looking like an October weapon in 'pen

BOSTON -- David Price didn't look like a starter pitching out of the bullpen on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Instead, he looked like a powerful reliever capable of doing damage for the Red Sox in October.

Displaying his best velocity readings since he came off the disabled list, Price retired all four batters he faced (three on strikeouts) while helping Boston reduce its magic number for clinching the American League East to two with a 10-7 victory over the Blue Jays.

Interestingly, manager John Farrell brought Price on in the middle of an inning -- albeit with two outs and nobody on base in the sixth.

"There's been a little bit of a progression here with some of the different situations he's coming into," said Farrell. "First couple of times it's clean innings. He would have been in that game for [Ryan] Goins if there was a man on base. So we're getting to that point. We're loosening the structure in which he's coming into games."

That's because in the postseason, you never know which situation Price might be needed for.

It didn't take the lefty any time at all to heat up on Wednesday.

In the six-pitch at-bat to Goins, which wound up with a grounder back to the box, Price threw all fastballs. They were all between 95.5 and 97.2 mph.

When Price came back out and struck out the side in the seventh, he went with a more diversified pitch mix, adding three changeups and two cutters. In all, Price threw 21 pitches, 13 of which were for strikes.

"You know, just sharp, powerful," said Farrell. "The three appearances he's made for us out of the bullpen, they've been extremely consistent and powerful. A lot of strikes. He's commanding the baseball extremely well. That's really an encouraging sign and you look at the velocity tonight, that's the best it's been in the three outings. Hopefully he's getting adapted a little more to the role and we can hopefully see some of the performances be similar to tonight going forward."

In Price's three relief appearances since he came back from the elbow woes that landed him on the disabled list for the second time this season, he's allowed no runs and three hits over six innings, walking one and striking out nine.

"He's doing great out of the bullpen," said Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts. "He's coming in, he's 96, 97 [mph] -- I saw it went up to 97 today. He's striking out a lot of guys. It seemed like every guy he faces he's striking them out. He's feeling pretty good."

In Wednesday's outing, Price's two-seamer averaged 95.6 mph. Provided he stays healthy, it looks like the Red Sox have the weapon they envisioned when the decision was made to have him pitch in relief for the remainder of 2017.

"I think it's a great move for him," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who managed Price in 2015. "I think he'll be a weapon for them out there. He looked really good tonight. Yeah, Dave's going to help them. He's a guy you always root for. He did a lot for us and I love the guy. It's good to see that he's back out there and I think he's going to be huge for them in the playoffs."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.