Mariano Rivera was honored Sunday prior to his last ever regular-season appearance at Fenway Park. The Red Sox made sure that was the only time he’d see the mound all weekend.
The Red Sox shook off a first-inning Yankees run with three of their own and routed the Bombers 9-2 for a three-game sweep in Boston. They claimed six out of seven games over the last week and a half to finish the season 13-6 against the Yankees. As the Providence Journal’s Alex Speier pointed out, the Red Sox are the first team to beat the Yankees 13 times in a season since the Orioles went 13-5 against them way back in 1976.
Tonight’s star was Daniel Nava, who went 4-for-5 with a couple of doubles. Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer off Ivan Nova in the first. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was credited with a steal of home in the fourth after Xander Bogaerts took off for second and Brendan Ryan failed to handle the throw from Chris Stewart.
Clay Buchholz, making his second start since coming off the DL, allowed just an unearned run over six innings, even though he wasn’t particularly sharp. He walked four and his fastball looked pretty hittable, but the Yankees couldn’t cash in. Their only run came after Curtis Granderson walked to start the first, reached third on an errant pickoff throw and came home on an Alex Rodriguez groundout.
Rodriguez later exited with right calf tightness.
The Red Sox are 11-3 in September and have 17 wins in their last 21 games. They own baseball’s best record at 92-59 and best run differential at +183 despite playing in the league’s toughest division. If they win five of their last 11 games, they’ll finish with 97 wins for the first time since 2004 and second time since 1978. If they go 8-3, they’ll reach 100 for the first time since 1946.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.