Veteran fans Springer with bases loaded to end threat
By Quinn Roberts
BOSTON -- As David Price jogged out of the Red Sox's bullpen in the seventh inning on Saturday vs. the Astros, the Fenway Park crowd roared with anticipation. He'd been in plenty of high-leverage situations as a starter, but this was different.
The left-hander, making just his fifth relief outing of the season, came into the game with runners on first and second and none out and the Red Sox holding a three-run lead.
Price delivered a scoreless frame to thwart the Astros' attempt at a comeback and help the Red Sox clinch the American League East in a 6-3 win.
Price has now thrown 8 2/3 scoreless innings of relief since returning from the disabled list on Sept. 14.
"His stuff is electric, but the command has been impeccable," said Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis.
Price got lucky for the first out of the inning, when Brian McCann's hot shot deflected off Mitch Moreland at first base. The ricochet deflected toward second baseman Brock Holt, who quickly threw to Price at first base for the out.
"It is one of those where I am breaking that way," Holt said. "The ball sort of kicked up on him since it was wet. Luckily it bounced right to where I was. It was a big play for us."
With runners on second and third, Price fanned Cameron Maybin but then walked pinch-hitter Tyler White to load the bases with two outs. The dangerous George Springer stepped to the plate as the potential go-ahead run, but Price fanned him on three pitches, the last of which was a 95.2-mph fastball, and sent Fenway into bedlam.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Saturday's game that Price was unavailable, but after the left-hander went through his pregame routine, the plan changed. Price was able to throw in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
"He's been pivotal in this role," said Farrell. "He's come back to us. We knew that the calendar was ticking away and it felt like this was the most logical path for him to come back to us. The fact that he's gone back-to-back days speaks volumes about the physical side."
In a trying year for Price, who has been on the disabled list twice with a left elbow injury and didn't speak with reporters after the game, this new role is fulfilling for him and the team.
"Yeah, it's been a challenging year for him, by his own admission," Farrell said. "He's a talented pitcher and we are using him at the right time."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.