HOUSTON -- Now that the high-powered Astros have belted around Boston's 1-2 combo of Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox need the middle of the rotation to get them back into this American League Division Series presented by Doosan
If the Sox can win that one, don't expect to see Sale on three days' rest in Game 4 on Monday.
"Hundred pitches thrown yesterday," Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Friday. "I would think he's probably Game 5 availability first, so that would be my thought initially. I'm not squelching it. But what we're seeing throughout the month, we've got to factor all that in."
Since Aug. 24, Sale is 3-4 with a 5.11 ERA. In 44 innings, the lefty has allowed 12 homers and opponents have hit .292 against him.
Rick Porcello is the most likely candidate to start Game 4 for the Red Sox. Eduardo Rodriguez is also a possibility, but he was shaky in a short relief outing on Friday.
David Price once again thrived in relief in Game 2, firing 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He hasn't allowed a run in six bullpen appearance since he came back as a reliever. Would Farrell entertain the thought of having Price make an abbreviated start in this series?
"It wouldn't be on Sunday," said Farrell. "I think that what we're seeing is 40 pitches is about the comfort zone which he's been built out at."
Price should be available in relief for Game 3. If he isn't needed on Sunday and the Red Sox can win, perhaps he would be available for that abbreviated start in Game 4 in what would essentially be a bullpen game.
Because they've continually played from behind in this series, Boston hasn't been able to display its' top strength -- the bullpen. What Farrell had envisioned as a successful recipe in this series is to hand the ball off to Price, Addison Reed and closer Craig Kimbrel with a lead.
The pressure is on the Red Sox to contain the Astros early when the series shifts to Fenway.
"We have got to do a little bit more consistent job," said Farrell. "Bottom line. There's many ways that they can score runs on one swing of the bat from a number of guys. But there's confidence in Doug going to the mound on Sunday. He pitched well against them to keep us in the ball game last time out. We're going to need another appearance or another outing similar to what he gave us last time."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.