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.

Boston believes, for now

Ramirez hoisted a call to arms, then backed it up going 4-for-4 on behalf of his Red Sox mates throttling the Astros in Game Three . . .

Ramirez hoisted a call to arms, then backed it up going 4-for-4 on behalf of his Red Sox mates throttling the Astros in Game Three . . .

It was as if the Red Sox called a conference before Game Three at Fenway Park and said, If you don’t mind, we’ll decide if and when we’re dead and buried. Designated hitter Hanley Ramirez’s exclamation point was the “Believe in Boston” sign he carried out during pre-game lineup introductions.

Dealing the last wild cards, and hearing the last of a lyricist

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants' home audience?

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants’ home audience?

Vin Scully ended his broadcasting career in the home ballpark of the Dodgers’ age-old rivals, receiving an affectionate pre-game visit from Willie Mays, awash in a sea of placards (THANK YOU VIN) and maybe the only known standing ovation ever afforded a Dodger in San Francisco. His final words were as gracious as you might have expected from this excessively modest man who always seemed to believe his gift from God was merely something on loan.

A sweep weekend for the Mets and the Red Sox

It wasn't exactly the Hanley Ramirez Show only for the weekend Red Sox, but don't tell CC Sabathia, who surrendered the three-run homer Ramirez has just hit here . . .

It wasn’t exactly the Hanley Ramirez Show only for the weekend Red Sox, but don’t tell CC Sabathia, who surrendered the three-run homer Ramirez has just hit here . . .

Thirty years ago, the Mets and the Red Sox locked in mortal baseball combat, in a World Series. It ended with the Mets on top of a baseball world that didn’t necessarily love that edition of the team, and the Red Sox having been kicked to the rocks below after having gotten close enough, yet again, to a Promised Land determined never to let them set foot upon it again, or so it seemed.

Watch these folks this spring . . .

Some other people to watch closely, very closely, as spring training begins rounding into serious shape:

Can the Pirates' Searage repair the Bard?

Can the Pirates’ Searage repair the Bard?

THE BARD OF PITTSBURGH—Daniel Bard was one of baseball’s best pen men with the 2009-11 Red Sox. Then Terry Francona quit before he could be canned, Bobby Valentine was brought in to man the bridge, Bard was turned into a starting pitcher—and became a mess of his own in the middle of the Valentine nightmare. He signed a minor league deal with the 2014 Cubs and never got out of extended spring training. He signed with the 2014 Rangers and disappeared again. He’s signed a minor league deal with this year’s Pirates. The hope is that Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage—who’s repaired such fractured pitchers as Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ, and Edinson Volquez—can repair the Bard.

The Red Sox corral a Panda

That was then: His third bomb of 2012 World Series Game One. This is now: The Panda goes to Beantown . . .

That was then: His third bomb of 2012 World Series Game One. This is now: The Panda goes to Beantown . . .

Yes, Giants fans. It will be a little strange to think of the Giants taking the field in 2015 without Pablo Sandoval at third base. It is a little strange that, when it came down to the proverbial nitty gritty, Kung Fu Panda ended up signing practically the same deal with the Red Sox that the Giants ultimately offered. Until you look past the raw numbers and the raw years, that is.

Did Mattingly misread Kershaw’s tank?

Carpenter's three-run double off Kershaw raises questions about Mattingly's read of his ace and his arms . . .

Carpenter’s three-run double off Kershaw raises questions about Mattingly’s read of his ace and his arms . . .

It seems that Detroit isn’t the only city this postseason fated to have nervous breakdowns when it’s time for their team to call the bullpen. Los Angeles may be fated to reach for the nerve tonics in similar times, if Friday’s National League division series opener in Dodger Stadium was any barometer.

$215 million buys Kershaw lots of burgers, ping pong, and aid for at-risk kids

Signed, sealed, delivery . . .

Signed, sealed, delivery . . .

In maybe the worst hour or so of Clayton Kershaw’s life as a major league pitcher, his immediate opponent had nothing but praise for him. Maybe that’s a big measure of a pitcher as a man. But after the Cardinals battered Kershaw and his Dodgers in the third and fourth innings of National League Championship Series Game Six, it would be Matt Carpenter whose mano-a-mano with Kershaw stood tallest as the Cardinals advanced to the World Series.

Daddy took the T-Bird away

Kershaw's day didn't end soon enough Friday . . .

Kershaw’s day didn’t end soon enough Friday . . .

There’ll be no more fun, fun, fun for the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers. Daddy took the T-Bird away in Busch Stadium Friday. And you can spend all winter debating whether or not the Dodgers themselves gave him the ammunition on a platter.

The Dodgers’ victory swim

Concerning the Los Angeles Dodger’s pool party to celebrate clinching the National League West in Arizona, a few observations:

1) There was a point during the season when the Dodgers had hit rock bottom, or close enough, while the Diamondbacks were hitting the high notes and the high standings. It isn’t exactly out of the bounds of reason to suggest that, on the assumption that the Dodgers had a resurrection in them, which wasn’t an assumption many were willing to make at that point in time, there could be nothing sweeter than to finish it at the Diamondbacks’ expense. Especially considering . . .