Eduardo Rodriguez did more than beat the Houston Astros Monday night. He set up the Red Sox for the rest of the ALCS.
The lefthander’s six innings in a 12-3 victory allowed the Red Sox to hold Nick Pivetta back for Game 4 Tuesday. Pivetta will be working on eight days’ rest against an Astros team he held to two runs over six innings June 2.
It will be Pivetta’s first postseason start.
“The fact [Rodriguez] went six innings was very important for us,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It’s three games in a row against a great team, and to be able to rest the bullpen for tomorrow is huge, and he understood that.”
The Sox also will have Tanner Houck available. He has pitched one inning over the last seven days.
The Astros are turning to Zack Greinke for “as long as he can go” according to manager Dusty Baker.
Greinke was 3-3 with a 5.34 earned run average in the second half and fell out of the Houston rotation. He pitched one inning of relief against the White Sox in a Division Series loss Oct. 10.
How much could Greinke give the Astros?
“We’ll see,” he said. “I haven’t gone real deep recently. We’ll just see what happens … it’s a tough team we’re facing.”
Greinke faced the Sox at Fenway Park June 10 and allowed four runs on seven hits over three innings. He’s 0-2 with a 10.22 ERA in four career games at Fenway.
“It’s an important game, so I’ll do what I can. Hopefully help us out,” he said.
The Red Sox did not make Pivetta available to the media.
Dalbec working at it
Bobby Dalbec was one of the first Red Sox players on the field before the game, taking batting practice off a high-velocity pitching machine.
As hitting coach Tim Hyers fed balls into the machine, Dalbec honed his swing, the crack of the bat echoing around the empty park.
“It helps my eyes more than my timing,” Dalbec said. “I like doing machine work in the offseason more. During the season, if I have a swing that’s working during a game, I feel like the machine would clash with that.
“I’m usually a less-is-more guy. But now I have to do whatever I can to stay ready.”
Dalbec started 111 games during the regular season but only two in the postseason. He’s now a pinch hitter and a late-inning defensive replacement at first base.
With Kyle Schwarber at first base, Alex Verdugo in left field and J.D. Martinez back as designated hitter after missing the first two postseason games with a sprained left ankle, there’s nowhere for Dalbec to play.
“I get it,” he said. “Those dudes have to play. This is not about me. I want to play and I’m hungry to play. But [Schwarber] had a lot of experience in the postseason.
Dalbec appeared in 24 of the final 28 regular-season games for the Red Sox, posting a .928 OPS with 13 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs.
But he is 0 for 11 in the postseason, striking out as a pinch hitter Monday
“He’s prepared,” Cora. “They have two lefties [Brooks Raley and Blake Taylor] in the bullpen and I still believe there’s going to be an at-bat somehow, someway and he’ll be ready for it and he’ll contribute. He’s upbeat.”
Respect for the Sox
Astros manager Dusty Baker was asked what preseason prognosticators missed with the Red Sox.
“All the experts had Tampa Bay here instead of the Red Sox,” he said. “It’s only a calculated guess, whatever the experts are saying, you know? You guys have to do that because if you don’t do that, you wouldn’t have a job. But when you are wrong, nobody calls you on it.
“Now, when I’m wrong, everybody calls me on it. You know what I mean?”
Baker feels Kiké Hernández, Martinez and Verdugo were underestimated.
“That’s why you play the season. I don’t think anybody probably knew how much heart they had and the fact that they were day to day probably in the toughest division in baseball,” he said.
“When you are battling Toronto and New York and those guys other than probably Baltimore on a daily basis, I mean you’re playing tough games and tough teams every day.”
Cora turned 46 Monday. His family threw him a Sox-themed birthday party before he went to the park. Cora’s mom, Iris, is in town for the playoffs. He’s still trying to convince his brother Joey to come in from Pittsburgh … The Sox have committed one error in the postseason … The ALCS has been tied, 1-1, 24 times in 52 years. The team that won Game 3 went on to the World Series 18 times … The Sox have had 10 or more hits in six consecutive games, a postseason record … Martinez has 30 RBIs in his first 27 career postseason games. Only Lou Gehrig, with 32, had more … Six-time All-Star and 2007 champion Jonathan Papelbon jogged in from the bullpen to throw out the first pitch. He worked from the stretch off the rubber and let a heater fly to Kevin Plawecki that was a bit high … It was 54 degrees at first pitch, the coldest night at Fenway since May 28 when it was 54.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.