Among the more damning indictments of John Farrell’s tenure in Toronto came during spring training, when Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus accused his former manager of overreacting whenever times got tough.

“It was like panic mode, ‘What are we doing?’ ” Rasmus said. “It was just a bad feeling.”

So, it was worth noting the steadiness of Farrell’s hand yesterday in the face of the Red Sox’ first sustained period of adversity. During a stretch of nine losses in 11 games, the Sox had scored only 36 runs on 91 hits and batted .244 with a .310 on-base percentage, leaving the masses clamoring for a massive shakeup of the batting order.

Instead, Farrell kept the status quo, barely altering the lineup last night even against Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. Instead of stressing out, Farrell stressed only that it’s “important for these players to know we believe in our guys.”

Panic? What panic?

Sure enough, the Red Sox rewarded Farrell’s faith, breaking out for eight runs in the third inning en route to a 9-2 giggler against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Will Middlebrooks notched an opposite-field double and homer that may well serve as the best indications that he’s finally emerging from his six-week slump, and Stephen Drew turned out the lights with a grand slam.

The offense provided more than enough support for ace Jon Lester and left everyone wondering where it went for the past two weeks.

“I mean, you had the same lineup that you won all the games with,” Drew said, referring to the Red Sox’ 20-8 start that has fizzled this month. “It’s one of those things. It’s there.”

A bout of triceps tightness sidelined Price after only 57 pitches with one out in the third inning. But the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner already had given up four runs on five hits, and if not for the injury, you got the feeling the Red Sox’ awakened offense may have applied the knockout punch.

Drew opened the third inning with a walk, then advanced on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. And considering the Red Sox had been struggling badly with runners in scoring position, Dustin Pedroia’s one-out RBI single may have been the most important hit of the game.

“The timely hitting hasn’t really been there the past week or so,” Middlebrooks said. “But Pedey’s the leader on this team, and he helps take us out of any hole we’re in, it seems like.”