Belief isn’t enough, except to the Astros

The Astros celebrate after putting the Red Sox to bed for the season Monday . . .

The Astros celebrate after putting the Red Sox to bed for the season Monday . . .

For a few moments it looked as though Astros manager A.J. Hinch made a big mistake in the bottom of the fifth in Fenway Park Monday. With one out and one on for the Red Sox, he brought in Justin Verlander, his Game One starter and winner—who’d never thrown an inning of relief in his life until now.

Later, in the bottom of the ninth, it looked like Hinch made a mistake asking closer Ken Giles for a six-out save when Red Sox rookie Rafael Devers stepped up to the plate to lead off.

For a change, the Red Sox and the Orioles didn’t play beanball Thursday

Machado Thursday, hitting the third of his monstrous Fenway bombs this week . . .

Machado Thursday, hitting the third of his monstrous Fenway bombs this week . . .

Just when you thought there could be nothing more shocking, stupid, or staggering coming out of Fenway Park, the Red Sox and the Orioles had do go and do something completely unexpected Thursday night. They went out and played a baseball game. Just baseball. Nobody tried yet again to re-enact The Wild Ones.

Enough is enough?

Holbrook (34) facing Gausman (center right, just ejected), Joseph (36), and oncoming manager Buck Showalter, after Bogaerts got a slightly surprising plunk in the second.

Holbrook (34) facing Gausman (center right, just ejected), Joseph (36), and oncoming manager Buck Showalter, after Bogaerts got a slightly surprising plunk in the second.

The good news from Boston Wednesday: Manny Machado got to play a game against the Red Sox without one pitch sailing anywhere near him other than around the plate. The bad news: Orioles starter Kevin Gausman couldn’t resist opening the second inning by throwing the first pitch at Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts’s hind quarters.

Baseball injuries should mean never having to say you’re sorry

Buchholz, who's apologised for something that should require no apology.

Buchholz, who’s apologised for something that should require no apology.

Clay Buchholz, Phillies pitcher, recuperating from surgery to repair a small tear in his flexor pronator mass, showed up at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday to see the Phillies tangle with the Marlins. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, a sober reporter, reported Buchholz apologised to general manager Matt Klentak “and others.”

Apologised, mind you.

Another sober reporter, NBC’s Bill Baer, says Buchholz was out of line. Not in the way you usually think when you see that phrase. “It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job,” Baer writes.

Machado, Pedroia, and respect won and lost

Matt Barnes attempting to decapitate Manny Machado Sunday . . .

Matt Barnes attempting to decapitate Manny Machado Sunday for a hard but not dirty slide Friday night . . .

I wonder if anyone noticed something during the Red Sox-Orioles series ender Sunday. Not Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes trying to decapitate Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the eighth inning, but the way the Orioles handled the would-be brain scrambler.

They did nothing.

Machado, who isn’t exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to confronting pitchers he thinks get out of line with him, didn’t move a muscle toward Barnes.

B Invincible

Bagging a Series at Fenway for the first time since You-Know-Who pitched for the Red Sox . . .

Bagging a Series at Fenway for the first time since You-Know-Who pitched for the Red Sox . . .

It isn’t exactly tempting the wrath of the Boston gods anymore, ladies and gentlemen. “Party like it’s 1918.” So said a fan’s none-too-large placard in the Fenway boxes, while Koji Uehara was at his office in the top of the ninth Wednesday night, three outs standing between himself, his Red Sox, and hysteria.

He Doesn’t Get It, But He’s Going to Get It

Bobby Valentine, a manager without a clue . . . and, possibly, without a job soon . . .

He didn’t really get it all season long as it was. And even before the Boston Red Sox hit the Yankee Stadium field Wednesday night, with a shot at forcing the Empire Emeritus into a tiebreaker for the American League East title, assuming the Baltimore Orioles finish what they started and beat the Tampa Bay Rays, Bobby Valentine still doesn’t get it.

Which is why CBS Sports is saying at this writing that Valentine’s going to get it, possibly as soon as Thursday.

Sobering Up with the Red Pox

Remember when Idiots weren’t bad things?

In the wake of the 2004 World Series, I wrote, for a since-defunct publication, “[S]omething seems not quite right about the literature of the Boston Red Sox turning toward triumph and away from tragedy.” Specifically, I was reviewing Faithful, Stewart O’Nan’s and (yes, that) Stephen King’s collaborative, end-to-end chronicle of viewing that year’s extraterrestrial Red Sox. And I was trying to say this: A near-century’s literature of transcendental disaster, usually upon the brink of the Promised Land but not necessarily exclusive to it, could only become a literature of transcendental triteness, now that the Red Sox had won a World Series, in my lifetime and every other Red Sox Nation citizen’s.

Throw the Switch on Valentine; Then, Start Rebuilding

Once upon a time, George Scott, an ertswhile Red Sox star, moved to the Milwaukee Brewers (he was part of the deal that also made ex-Red Sox out of Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, and Billy Conigliaro), had a conversation with the Brewers’ one-time co-owner, Edmund Fitzgerald. No, silly, not the wreck about which Gordon Lightfoot wrote a certain ancient song hit, however the Brewers weren’t doing at the time. “You know, Mr. Fitzgerald, if we’re gonna win,” the big man called Boomer said, “the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager gotta manage better, and the owners gotta own better.”

Pedroia Gives Valentine a Vote of Confidence, Sort of, for Now

Hours after the original story appeared at Yahoo! Sports, and after the Boston Red Sox collapsed 7-1 against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards Tuesday night, Dustin Pedroia spoke about the now-notorious 26 July meeting between a number of players and team brass in New York. Depending upon your point of view, the second baseman either clarified what Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan reported—citing unnamed inside sources—or backpedaled.

Dustin Pedroia tries to dissipate a storm . . .