David Kohl/USA Today Sports

Red Sox 5, Reds 4: It's starting to taste like playoffs

Rob Bradford
September 22, 2017 - 11:31 pm

The Red Sox Magic Number is now at six. That means any combination of Sox wins or Yankees losses that adds up to six and Boston is your American League East Division champ.

Yes, with the come-from-behind, 5-4 win over the Reds, and New York's loss to Toronto, John Farrell's team is four games up with nine to play. Then you can factor in what the Sox continue to deliver, going 32-15 since Aug. 1, and 14-6 this month. (For a complete recap of the Sox's win, click here.)

What it all adds up to is the distinct feeling that worrying about the Yankees shouldn't be the priority. It's time to think about October, which is exactly what Farrell and Co. seemed to set their sights on Friday night.

"We don’t care what the Yankees do," David Price told reporters after the win. "Just go play our game."

What their game was against Cincinnati sure felt like a prelude to postseason baseball, mainly because of Price's presence.

If Farrell wasn't thinking about the playoffs, there was no way he would have done what he did -- take Rick Porcello out after four innings, with a lead. But that's exactly what happened, with Price coming on to give the Red Sox' new Andrew Miller way of doing things a whirl.

It worked. Price followed up Porcello with 2 2/3 scoreless innings, setting the stage for Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel to close out the final seven outs. (And, just for good measure, Price got his third base-hit in 48 at-bats, leading off the seventh with an opposite field single.) Considering the postseason possibilities, this Price success continues to be a major development.

"You know, he’s healthy," Farrell told reporters regarding Price. "And that’s the beauty in all of this. All the work that he’s put in to get back to this point, and then I still – I don’t want to say marvel at, but the way he comes out and throws strikes and quality strikes. We’re talking nearly five innings in the past two months, and it’s impressive to see the way he commands the baseball."

Price was only part of the equation when it came to contemplating approaching the postseason a bit different. National League rules or not, Farrell managed this one a little out of the ordinary, at least when it came to his starting pitcher.

Porcello had allowed the Reds to put up four runs after just four batters thanks to Scooter Gennett's first-inning grand slam. But, thanks to the visitors' four-run fourth inning -- which was paced by Rafael Devers homer and Christian Vazquez's RBI double -- the Sox' starter took the mound with the lead. That would last, however, for just one inning, with Farrell choosing to go to Price after Porcello (who hit in the fourth) had thrown just 57 pitches.

It was the kind of quick trigger which isn't uncommon in October, although it's clear until things are wrapped up Farrell isn't going to managing like the previous six months, either.

"No, not likely," Farrell told reporters when asked if Porcello would have gotten more rope if not for Price's presence. "Even with the extended, we’re probably looking at maybe having to piece some things together there. But, that’s the reason you make the move. It’s to have someone throwing the ball as well as David did down in Tampa. Hopefully that was going to be the case tonight. It worked out."

"It's usually how it goes, you know? Start of rocky and settle down and find your groove. I've had a lot of starts like that over the course of my career where I'm able to settle in and give us six, seven strong innings. I didn't get that opportunity," he told reporters. The pitcher later added, "Obviously, I've been an American League player my whole career. I'm not going to stand here and say I know the ins and outs of National League baseball and that sort of thing. But when you have the lead you usually don't come out of the game. So I was pretty frustrated with that. But thank God we won the game and that's all that matters. Great win. Bullpen did a hell of a job. They've been doing a hell of a job. Offense was outstanding to come back from that deficit. So hats off to our guys, and big win for us."

The Price dynamic has changed a lot. Farrell might not want to surface Mr. Miller's name when talking about his new reliever, but after Friday that really isn't going to be possible.

It was reunion Friday, with John Farrell meeting up with his son, Reds pitcher Luke Farrell, and Andrew Benintendi returning home to a throng of relatives.


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