Chad Qualls is not enamored with San Francisco Giants fans. And the feeling is mutual.

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On Tuesday night, Padres pitcher Chad Qualls irked some Giants players and some fans when he spiked the baseball and yelled after tagging Andres Torres out at the plate.  We can argue whether the Giants — who have a number of players who are demonstrative, flashy and just plain silly — have any standing to take issue with Qualls, but justified or not, there is some tension there.  Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that San Francisco talk radio was buzzing with serious Qualls hate all day yesterday.

Don’t expect that tension to be reduced any after Jenkins’ story, however, because Qualls — while speaking pretty truthfully based on what my San Francisco correspondents have told me — added some fuel to the fire, at least with the fans, when he had this to say about playing in beautiful AT&T Park:

“Playing in San Francisco, you gotta understand, when you’re warming up two feet from the fans, they’re not telling you how good you are or telling you how glad they are that you’re warming up. They’re calling you every name in the book, every cuss word in the book. To shut them down on an inning where we’re ahead, it’s kinda putting it to the city and the fans, because they’re just wearing you out on a consistent basis as you’re warming up, spitting on you, calling you anything they want. The later the game, the more drunk they are, the more harsh the words.”

Like I always say in such situations, Chad: don’t go halfway with this. Make it a full heel-turn.  Feed on their anger and take it as over-the-top as you can.  It may make road trips to San Francisco hard in the short term, but in 20 years you’ll be asked to come up for speaking engagements and dinners and conventions and all kinds of good stuff because everyone loves a villain.

Red Sox look to punch their ticket to the World Series tonight

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Thanks to some amazing defense, some big hits and — to continue to beat this horse, a bad call by Joe West — the Red Sox have a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and look to clinch the AL Pennant tonight down in Houston.

If you believe in momentum, you’d have to say it’s on Boston’s side. If you believe that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher, however, you’d have to say things favor Houston more than the standing of the series would suggest. All of which makes me wish Game 5 was starting right now, because it figures to be a tense and exciting affair.

ALCS Game 5

Red Sox vs. Astros
Ballpark: Minute Maid Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: TBS
Pitchers: David Price vs. Justin Verlander
Breakdown:

If someone told you that you had to win one baseball game against the Martians to save the human race, you could do far worse than calling on Justin Verlander to be your starting pitcher. Among the pitchers still in the postseason, he’d almost certainly be your choice right now.

Does Verlander himself appreciate the situation? This is what he said about that yesterday:

“I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”

Look, we’re asking him to beat the Martians here, not win the National Math Bee, so let’s let that go. The point is that after all of these years he’s still one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and after the exhausting, see-saw battle of Game 4, he stands the best chance of giving Houston what it needs: a quick, quiet and drama-free win.

Not that the Red Sox are likely to roll over for that. They didn’t the first time they faced Verlander in this series. They Astros won, yes, and Verlander limited them to two runs on two hits. But he also issued four walks and wasn’t his sharpest overall. Boston didn’t capitalize on his mistakes as best they could, but he’s not invincible.

For Boston it’s David Price. He allowed four runs on five hits and four walks over four and two-thirds innings in Game 2, not factoring in the decision. That’s not great, but given the talk leading up to that game being all about how Price is a postseason flop, the fact that the Sox won it in the end had to bouy him at least a little. As does the fact that, here, tonight, it’s not 100% on his shoulders. Sure, the Sox want to close this out, but with a 3-1 lead there is less pressure on Price than on his former teammate Verlander. Worth noting, though: Price is on short rest and warmed up in the bullpen last night in case he was needed to bail out Craig Kimbrel. He may not go deep into this game.