Mark Teixeira tests calf by running in outfield, hopes to return this weekend

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The Yankees have struggled to put runs on the board recently and have the Orioles hot on their tail going into a four-game series tonight in Baltimore, but the Bombers’ offense could be back to full strength soon.

According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, Mark Teixeira tested his strained left calf by running in the outfield this afternoon at Camden Yards. He admitted that his calf is still a “little tight,” but plans to ramp up the intensity and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to action tomorrow night. Yankees manager Joe Girardi seems to think later this weekend is more realistic.

“I’m not anticipating it (tomorrow), but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and watch him go through what he needs to go through and make a decision,” Joe Girardi said. “You have to make sure that when he gets out there he’s ready to play and it’s not like a 50-50 chance that it’s going to happen the first night back. You can’t take that chance. We’ve got to feel pretty good that he’s going to be able to remain healthy.”

When Teixeira suffered the injury last Monday, it was originally estimated that he would miss one to two weeks, so he’s still roughly on schedule. He would likely take an extra day or two if the Yankees still had a nice cushion, but there’s obviously an increased sense of urgency right now.

Teixeira, 32, is hitting .255/.335/.478 with 23 home runs, 81 RBI and an .813 OPS in 119 games played this season.

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.