And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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White Sox 5, Tigers 4: For want of some leather, the empire was lost. Or something like that.  The Tigers now find themselves three back of the White Sox with no more head-to-head games. This is pretty dire for the Tigers.

Braves 7, Marlins 5: Dan Uggla continues to kill his old team. He hit a three-run homer and actually had a nice defensive game too. Martin Prado went 4 for 4 while filling in for Chipper Jones at third.

Red Sox 5, Rays 2: What’s a better way to tell that the Rays are playing out the string, the fact that Evan Longoria was being rested when every game is do-or-die or the fact that they’re playing listless baseball anyway? Jacoby Ellsbury homered and drove in three.

Phillies 3, Mets 1: Cliff Lee looked great — ten strikeouts while allowing one run in eight innings — but every pitcher looks good against the Mets these days.  R.A. Dickey fails again to move toward 20 wins which, based on how that’s all that is mentioned in every game story after he pitches, is what everyone has apparently decided for some reason is necessary for his season to be successful. He still pitched pretty good baseball. The Mets just can’t score and Cliff Lee is still friggin’ good.

Orioles 10, Mariners 4: Nate McLouth hit a leadoff homer. Matt Wieters hit one too. No, not a leadoff homer. That would be ridiculous because you can’t have two of those. Oh, and Adam Jones and Chris Tillman each had great games too, which has to make the Mariners a little unhappy. I’m sure they have an Erik Bedard poster up someplace, though.

Giants 2, Rockies 1: Brandon Crawford doubled, tripled and scored on Wilin Rosario’s 20th (20th!) passed ball of the season. Madison Bumgarner walked five dudes but Colorado just couldn’t capitalize.

Pirates 3, Cubs 0: A nearly four hour rain delay because (a) the Pirates are still technically in contention; and (b) there is no room in baseball’s hastily-constructed schedule this year to play a makeup game if necessary. That led to everyone wanting to go home, which led to Kevin Correia striking out six and pitching seven shutout innings. Folks, if your game starts after 10:30 at night, you’re doing something wrong.

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.