Bob Melvin gets bailed out by overpowering Verlander

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The A’s made the most impetuous decision of the postseason in starting Sonny Gray over Bartolo Colon in Wednesday’s Game 5, choosing a rookie over the guy who finished second in the AL in ERA based on one excellent performance.

And how’d the follow that up? By treating Game 5 against a completely dominant Justin Verlander as if it was a typical mid-May, regular-season game. You just know that Rays manager Joe Maddon would have pulled out all of the stops tonight. A’s manager Bob Melvin pulled out none of them.

I’ll admit, I often criticize the other way in October. Managers tend to overdo it and try to force the action. Heck, Jim Leyland was guilty of that tonight when he had Jhonny Peralta and Prince Fielder working a two-strike hit-and-run with Fielder on first in the second inning. It turned into a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play.

Melvin, though, did nothing. After Gray gave up a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the fourth, Melvin waited until Gray loaded the bases to get someone, anyone up in the pen. In an elimination game. With guys like Jerry Blevins and Jesse Chavez completely unused in the series and pretty much guaranteed of never taking the mound in the sixth through ninth innings of the game.

Gray got out of the inning and was sent back out for the fifth, an inning that started with a walk to No. 9 hitter Don Kelly. Melvin stuck with Gray anyway and was rewarded with a scoreless inning. At that point, I’m not sure anyone expected Gray to be sent back out for the sixth, but there he was. Two singles later, he was done. Dan Otero came in and nearly pitched out of the jam, only to give up a run when Josh Donaldson and Alberto Callaspo couldn’t quite work a double play.

Then there’s the offense. I don’t know how complicit Melvin is here, but it was simply astonishing that no A’s hitter tried to test the hobbled Miguel Cabrera by bunting down the third-base line. Cabrera played Coco Crisp to bunt, but if anyone else could have dropped one down with any touch, it would have been a single. Now, I can’t imagine laying a bunt down against Verlander is an easy assignment, but it has to have a higher success rate than most of the swings the A’s were taking.

Of course, all that being said, none of it really matters. Verlander was better than the A’s, and there’s nothing Melvin could have done that would have changed that outcome. I thought Colon should have started tonight (with Gray ready to step it at any sign of trouble), but the rookie did just fine on the big stage. If Gray had been pulled earlier and if the A’s could have picked up a bunt single or two, maybe they would have lost 2-1 instead of 3-0, but they still would have lost.

The Red Sox AL East championship banner fell off a truck and is being held hostage

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The Red Sox haven’t won the AL East just yet. They will. For them not to, they’ll have to lose the rest of their games while the Yankees win the rest of theirs. It’s just a matter of time.

Knowing this, the club can plan some things in advance. The can begin postseason ticket sales, for example. They can decide what sort of festivities they will undertake for the first game of the ALDS that is guaranteed to begin at Fenway Park. They also, of course, can raise a banner for the division championship.

There’s only one problem with that: the banner, already printed up, fell off the dang truck that was delivering it and is being held hostage by a guy named Louie Iacuzzi from Malden. From the Boston Globe:

Iacuzzi said Wednesday by phone that he and his buddies spotted an object wrapped up on McGrath Highway in Somerville Monday morning. So he pulled over and crossed multiple lanes of busy traffic to retrieve it. Inside was a massive banner that read “ ‘2018 American League East Champions’; it’s the banner,” Iacuzzi said.

One can presume that Iacuzzi is a big Sox fan so he’s willing to do the right thing without hesitation, right? Well . . . kinda:

“We want to return it, we’re trying to do the right thing, but I’m not just going to hand it to them, know what I mean?” Iacuzzi said.

Asked if he wanted cash from the Red Sox, he said, “Yes, financial [compensation], maybe some tickets, we want something. We don’t know what we want. We want to return it, 100 percent, but we would like to get something.”

Iacuzzi didn’t have a specific asking price in mind as of Wednesday morning.

“We want to find out what the thing’s worth,” he said. “We don’t know.”

You have to click through to the Globe story to check out Iacuzzi and his friends. You also have to hear what his dad told him to do with the banner. Frankly, his dad sounds like my dad, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a compliment to anyone involved.

What’ll the Red Sox clinch first? The AL East or the return of their property? And will the movie version of this be more like “The Town,” “Celtic Pride” or “The Friends of Eddie Coyle?”

UPDATE: Oh man, there’s video: