Red Sox starting pitcher Beckett throws against New York Yankees during third inning of their MLB American League baseball game in New York

Red Sox shut out Yankees behind dominant Josh Beckett

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Josh Beckett entered Saturday’s game with a fine 11-7 career record against the Bombers, but it certainly hasn’t been easy.  His ERA stood at 5.90, and he had given up 24 homers in 23 starts.

That’s why the Red Sox have to be thrilled about just how outstanding Beckett has been in two starts versus the Yankees this year.  The 2010 version of Beckett was absolutely manhandled by the Yankees, giving up 29 runs and nine homers in 26 innings.  He had a ridiculous 10.04 ERA in his five starts.

This year, Beckett has pitched 14 scoreless innings in two wins over the Yankees.  He allowed four hits over six innings and struck out nine as part of Boston’s 6-0 win tonight.

Of course, that’s not all that has the Red Sox happy at the moment:

– Adrian Gonzalez homered again, giving him six in six games and eight in 13 games for the month of May.  Tonight’s was a three-run blow in the seventh inning that put the game out of reach.

– Jacoby Ellsbury had two more hits, including a two-run double that put the Red Sox on the board against CC Sabathia in the fifth.  He lost a 19-game hitting streak on Wednesday, but he’s collected four hits through the first two games against the Yankees, pushing his average up to .301.

– Jason Varitek contributed a key hit in front of Gonzalez’s homer tonight.  After batting .091 in April, he’s suddenly contributing with five hits and three walks in his five starts this month.

– And perhaps best of all, the Yankees appear to be in some pretty serious disarray, with the Jorge Posada drama completely overshadowing the game tonight.  Manager Joe Girardi, upset about a pitch that should have been called strike three in the aforementioned Varitek at-bat, was tossed from this one after Gonzalez homer.  Even the typically unflappable Sabathia is struggling some at the moment, and no one in the lineup is hitting higher than .281.

Of course, the Red Sox shouldn’t get too cocky.  The Yankees are still far and away first in the majors in homers, and their one explosion Sunday away from reclaiming the AL lead in runs scored.  Plus, they’re still two games ahead of Boston in the standings.

But things are looking up for Boston.  If Jon Lester can outduel Freddy Garcia and improve to 5-1 on Sunday, then the Red Sox will not only have completed a road sweep of their rivals, but they’ll have gotten to .500  for the first time all season.

And it will have taken only 40 games.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.