The Oakland Athletics just announced that they have traded infielder Mark Ellis to the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Bruce Billings and a player to be named later (the latter of whom seems to get traded A LOT!).
Ellis has been a fixture at second base for the A’s since 2002, but he has fallen off a cliff this year. Following his hamstring injury earlier this month he lost his job to Jemile Weeks, making him expendable. Ellis has played some first base since being activated from the DL, but will likely be used primarily at second base for the Rockies, who have had a heck of a time trying to find any kind of consistent production at the keystone.
Billings has pitched only one game in the majors. He’s 6-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 29 relief appearances at Colorado Springs this year. He strikes out batters at a pretty decent clip, but walks his share too. A pretty common story for a minor league reliever.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.