Yankees crush Red Sox, claim AL East lead over O’s

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The Yankees exploded for nine runs in the second on the way to a 10-2 victory over the Red Sox on Monday and moved a game up on the Orioles for first place in the AL East after Baltimore lost to Tampa Bay 5-3.

The Bombers hit four homers as part of their huge frame, with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira all going deep.

Martin’s homer was somewhat controversial, as a fan — in a Red Sox shirt, no less — reached over the wall with his cap in an attempt to haul it in. The ball, though, ended up bouncing off his wrist, suggesting that it would have hit off the top of the wall and bounced over if not for the interference. It was ruled a homer on the field, and the call went unchanged after being reviewed.

The Red Sox bounced back to outscore the Yankees 2-1 over the rest of the game, giving them something to build on for… no, really, who am I kidding?

CC Sabathia cruised to his 15th victory, allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings against a lineup that included two regulars (Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia). Clay Buchholz allowed eight of the nine runs in the second and was pulled after 1 2/3.

Tampa Bay’s win was much closer, and it at least temporarily kept the Rays in postseason contention, pending Oakland’s result tonight. Alex Cobb allowed just one run and two hits in seven innings to improve to 11-9. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen gave up four runs — one earned — in 6 2/3 innings to take the loss, leaving him 12-11.

Fernando Rodney broke his tie with Dennis Eckersley and is now in position to sport the lowest ERA of all-time after pitching a scoreless ninth for his 47th save. He’s at 0.605, down from 0.614 to begin the day. The Rays wanted to get through the game without using Rodney, but after entering to begin the ninth, Kyle Farnsworth gave up a single and a homer in what had been a 5-1 game.

The Orioles will now need some help from the Red Sox to avoid slipping into the wild card position. The Rays still have a slight chance at the second wild card, but they’ll need the A’s to lose three straight to Texas.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.