Eugenio Velez sets a dubious record

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Last night wasn’t all about heroic comebacks and epic collapses. Some history of a smaller, more dubious nature was made. Specifically: Eugenio Velez broke a modern-day record for a non-pitcher by going hitless in his final 46 at-bats. He did it with a grounder to second as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning against the Diamondbacks.

One wonders why Don Mattingly, presumably aware of the streak, let Velez hit in that situation when he could have just rode the pine. Maybe it was because he had already tied the record and he figured, hey, why not give him a chance to snap it with one final hit.  I suppose it won’t matter too much — only Velez and some weirdos like me will remember this in two weeks — but normally baseball custom dictates that players sit in such situations.

Oh well. Sorry Eugenio, but there is at least some sort of compliment to you in all of this. Like they used to say back at the law firm, “it takes a damn good lawyer to lose a big case.”  Meaning, you never get a chance to handle a big case if you weren’t good to begin with.  Same with dubious baseball records.  If you weren’t thought highly of in some way Mattingly never would have kept sending you out for those 46 times.

It’s OK if that doesn’t make you feel better.

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.