Red Sox, Rays both win, head into finale tied atop wild card

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Powered by yet another Jacoby Ellsbury blast and Ryan Lavarnway’s first two career homers, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 8-7 to remain in a tie with the Rays in the AL wild card standings.

The Rays topped the Yankees 5-3 thanks to homers from Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce.  Joyce’s homer was a three-run shot off former Rays closer Rafael Soriano in the seventh inning.

Both clubs won for the 90th time this season.

The Yankees went with their regular lineup, minus only Derek Jeter, and all of their best relievers in this one, but they couldn’t best Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays relief corps.  They had their big chance in the sixth when Russell Martin, who hit a solo homer earlier, hit into a 5-4-3 triple play with the bases loaded, killing the rally.  That was the end of the night for Hellickson, and the bullpen put up three zeroes from there.

Like the Rays, the Red Sox did all of their damage on homers.  Ellsbury hit the first, a two-run shot off Zach Britton in the third.  Lavarnway followed with a three-run blast off Britton in the fourth.  Marco Scutaro made it 7-3 Boston with a two-run shot of his own in the sixth, and Lavarnway hit his second, a solo shot, in the eighth.

Less encouraging for Boston was Erik Bedard’s shaky outing.  He lasted just 3 1/3 innings and gave up three runs.  Fortunately, the invaluable Alfredo Aceves picked the Red Sox up with 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

The eighth and ninth brought more trouble.  Daniel Bard gave up two runs in the former, and Jonathan Papelbon, who seemed less than overpowering in this one after throwing 2 1/3 innings Sunday, allowed a run in the ninth before getting Adam Jones to ground out to end it.

The Red Sox and Rays are now set for a one-game playoff on Thursday if they both post the same result in Wednesday’s finales.  Boston will send Jon Lester to the mound on short rest.  He’ll be opposed by Baltimore’s Alfredo Simon. The Yankees are expected to throw a variety of relievers against the Rays, while Tampa Bay will have David Price on the mound.

Mets place Tim Tebow on 7-day disabled list

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Tim Tebow was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a right hand injury, the Mets’ Double-A affiliate announced Saturday. The outfielder was forced to make an early exit from Thursday’s minor league game and underwent some preliminary tests on Friday, but he’s still expected to consult with a hand specialist next week to determine the extent of the injury and give the Mets some indication of how long his recovery might take.

Tebow, 30, was promoted to Double-A Binghamton at the start of the 2018 season and has slashed .273/.336/.399 with six home runs, a stolen base and a .734 OPS through 298 plate appearances so far. This is the first serious setback he’s experienced in two seasons of professional baseball, and casts some doubt on his ability to return to the field before the end of the regular season. A promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas (let alone the majors) appears to be all but ruled out at this point.

Tebow’s injury is the latest in a string of unfortunate mishaps for the Mets, who are also dealing with injuries to Yoenis Cespedes (calcification in heels), Noah Syndergaard (fatigue/’dead arm’) and T.J. Rivera (right elbow sprain), among various others at the major league level. Cespedes’ case has raised the most alarm over the last two days, as skipper Mickey Callaway claimed to have no knowledge of the outfielder’s remarks to the press concerning an impending surgery on his heels.