The Rangers and Rays give us an ALDS preview tonight

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If the season ended today, two things would happen: (1) we’d all be really surprised and would demand explanations; and (2) we’d have the Rangers facing the Rays in the ALDS, just like they are tonight.

And we’d likely have tonight’s matchup as well: Cliff Lee vs. David Price, which considering the struggles Tim Lincecum is now going through, tops the Ubaldo Jimenez-Lincecum matchup from last month and stands out as the matchup of the year.

Maybe the most intriguing thing about the matchup is that each starter has had trouble with the opposition. Two of Lee’s first four starts this season came against the Rays, and he lost both of them.  Price hasn’t faced the Rangers this season, but he’s 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in three starts against Texas.

Every time I hype up a matchup like this it ends up being a dud. Here’s hoping my luck changes, because there are only eight games tonight, and I really want this one to be good.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.