After dismal, and borderline embarrassing, performances in games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series, the Boston Red Sox exploded for 10 runs on 15 hits Sunday afternoon, avoiding a sweep for the second straight year and forcing a pivotal game 4 at Fenway Park. 

After an exciting season filled with a plethora of young talent showing off their stuff, it was a disappointing start to the series for the Sox. Despite some hardships along the way, the team showed  that it still stands a chance at a championship in its unfamiliar, post-David Ortiz era. This potential was nowhere to be found through the first two games, though.

Despite home-field advantage, the win came as a surprise to many: aces Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz were both roughed up badly by the loaded Houston lineup in games 1 and 2, and shaky veteran Doug Fister was expected to suffer the same fate — and for the most part, he did. Allowing three runs on four hits in 1.1 innings of work, Fister added his name to the long list of terrible postseason starts from Boston pitchers. The Houston Astros were a powerhouse team during the regular season.  On offense as a team, they ranked first in Major League Baseball in batting average at .282. They ranked second in home runs only to the New York Yankees with 238, and they ranked first in RBIs with 854. Furthermore, they led the league in doubles with 346 and runs scored with 896. The bottom line is that the offensive prowess of this team was well known coming into the playoffs, yet the Red Sox starting pitching staff was not adequately prepared to do anything about it.

However, the Sox bullpen, namely David Price, was at its absolute best — and saved the team from back-to-back first-round sweeps. Joe Kelly relieved Fister in the second inning, allowing two hits and no earned runs. He then handed the ball over to David Price, the under-performing starter banished to the bullpen, who also happens to be by far the highest paid player on the Red Sox. His stint in Boston has been filled with drama and scrutiny — much of it not undeserved. Regardless, Price was painfully aware of the fact that he was in desperate need of a redeeming performance this postseason to save face and possibly even his career. Sunday afternoon, he delivered. Going four full innings without allowing a run, while holding the Sox’ one-run lead into the seventh inning, Price all but single-handedly kept Boston’s postseason hopes alive. 

The team’s bats then erupted for six runs in the seventh inning, securing at least one more day of baseball for the Sox and their fans. The game marked a drastic turning point for the team that had all but given up in game 2, as the team showed a level of intensity that hadn’t been seen in weeks. For a series that was considered to be over, and for a team that gave almost nothing to hope for, game 3 proved more than anything that this team is capable of much more than what they have been showing. It’s the postseason, and the Red Sox are finally starting to play like it. They are more than capable of putting up numbers against the Houston rotation, proving so this regular season against ace Justin Verlander. Whether they rise to the occasion with the passion and intensity of game 3 or fall back to the pitiful effort of games 1 and 2 is still a total mystery; their performances and their capabilities are obviously drastically different. But game 4 at Fenway Park is a chance for an unlikely team to finally live up to expectation, and give the city of Boston a baseball team to be proud of.