Bobby Valentine rips the umps after yesterday’s loss

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The Red Sox got swept by the Nats over the weekend, which likely put Bobby Valentine in a bad mood. Making it worse: the umpiring. And Valentine used yesterday’s postgame presser to rip the men in blue.

He was particularly mad at what he — and everyone who watched it, PitchFx included — thought should have been strike three to Roger Bernadina, just prior to his hitting the game-winning double that scored Bryce Harper in the ninth. Here’s Valentine after the game:

“Alfredo struck the guy out on a pitch that the whole ball is on the plate, and [Umpire Al Porter] calls it a ball.”
Valentine got more angry in the bottom of the ninth when the 1-1 pitch to Dustin Pedroia was called a strike when it was clearly outside.  That got Valentine out of the dugout and a one-way ticket to ejectionville.  But it wasn’t just those two pitches that had him fuming:

“Good umpires had a real bad series . . . a real bad series,” said a grim, tight-lipped Valentine — attempting unsuccessfully to hide his anger — in his postgame press conference. “It went one way (for the Nationals and against the Red Sox). There should be a review … The game is simple: Throw it over the plate, call it a strike. Don’t throw it over the plate, call it a ball.” said Valentine. “It’s simple. That’s all. That’s all anybody asks. I know it’s been going on for 100 years. I’m not the first one to say it. But this was a pretty lousy series … You’ve got guys busting their butts, battling their butts off, and it’s not right.”

Now, if I had to guess, Valentine will get a one-way ticket to fineville. Or perhaps it’s a roundtrip ticket. And it’s possible he could use Rewards points to purchase it. It’s all so complicated these days.

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.