Bill Baer

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 19: Starting pitcher Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 19, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Rick Porcello bolsters Cy Young case, AL East lead with complete game win over Orioles

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Red Sox starter Rick Porcello needed only 89 pitches to get through nine innings to defeat the Orioles 5-2 at Camden Yards on Monday night, helping his team increase its AL East division lead over the O’s to four games. Porcello allowed only five base runners on four hits and a hit batsman while walking none and striking out seven in the effort.

Mookie Betts and David Ortiz backed Porcello as each hit a two-run home run. Dustin Pedroia also helped out with an RBI single. The Orioles’ only two runs came on a Mark Trumbo RBI double in the fourth and an Adam Jones solo homer in the eighth.

Porcello is arguably the favorite for the American League Cy Young Award. After Monday’s performance, he’s 21-4 with a 3.08 ERA and a 174/29 K/BB ratio in 210 2/3 innings. He only trails Masahiro Tanaka (2.97) and Chris Sale (3.03) in ERA. J.A. Happ (3.27 ERA) is the only other starter likely to cross 20 wins. He’ll go for No. 20 on Tuesday against the Mariners.

Report: The Rangers could get Shin-Soo Choo back for the ALDS

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 10:  Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 10, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has been out since mid-August with a fractured left forearm. He had a plate surgically inserted into his forearm shortly thereafter and was expected to miss the rest of the regular season. That’s still true, but the Rangers are hopeful Choo can return in time for the start of the ALDS, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports.

The Rangers entered Monday’s action with an 88-62 record, 8.5 games ahead of the Mariners for first place in the AL West. It would take a monumental collapse in the season’s two and a half weeks for the Rangers’ preemptive ALDS planning to become moot.

Carlos Gomez joined the club shortly after Choo’s injury and he’s done an admirable job. In 90 plate appearances with the Rangers, Gomez is hitting .244/.344/.513 with six home runs and 16 RBI. If Choo does return, the Rangers would likely play the matchups with the right-handed Gomez and the left-handed Choo.

Mookie Betts owns the Orioles

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs towards the dugout during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on September 16, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts broke a scoreless tie in the third inning of Monday night’s game against the Orioles, sending a 2-0 Dylan Bundy fastball into the left field seats at Camden Yards. It’s his 31st home run and he now has 108 RBI and a .315 average as well — numbers eerily similar to DH David Ortiz, his teammate.

Here’s video of the home run Betts hit on Monday night.

What’s even more striking is how badly Betts has owned the Orioles this season. Entering Monday’s action, Betts had a .318/.426/.825 triple-slash line with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 68 plate appearances against the Orioles this season. Isolating for games played at Camden Yards, Betts carried a .500/.571/1.375 triple-slash line with seven home runs and 13 RBI in 28 plate appearances. You can do the math to add tonight’s performance.

Betts has a very real chance to take home the American League Most Valuable Player Award. Mike Trout is the runaway favorite going by Wins Above Replacement, but some voters will discredit him because the Angels aren’t in a playoff race. Josh Donaldson has been banged up and slumping. Jose Altuve has been slumping. Manny Machado has similar numbers, but Betts has 24 stolen bases to Machado’s zero.

The Red Sox came into Monday’s action with a three-game lead over the Orioles for first place in the AL East. Betts chose the right team to antagonize.