Mark Bowman of MLB.com passes along word that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has officially tabbed Tommy Hanson to start Opening Day against the Mets next Thursday. It will be the first Opening Day assignment of his career.
Hanson was limited to just 22 starts last year due to right shoulder problems and missed the first couple weeks of camp after suffering a mild concussion in a one-car accident. Armed with a revamped delivery, the 24-year-old right-hander has a 2.57 ERA and 6/1 K/BB ratio over his first two official Grapefruit League starts. He’s making his final tuneup this afternoon against the Tigers.
Hanson will be followed in the rotation by Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy. Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran are currently competing for the fifth spot in the rotation while the newly-signed Livan Hernandez is expected to pitch in long relief.
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.