Brian Roberts draws two walks in minor league rehab debut

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From Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun comes word that veteran second baseman Brian Roberts collected a pair of walks in two plate appearances Wednesday night for the Double-A Bowie Baysox.

He also scored a run and recorded two defensive assists at second base in the first chapter of what’s sure to be a long minor league rehab assignment.

Roberts hasn’t appeared in a major league game since the middle of May last season and is no lock to make it through the rehabilitation process this time around without experiencing a setback. But everything seems to be going smoothly at this point for the 34-year-old lifetime member of the Orioles and his post-concussion syndrome.

Roberts, who boasts three seasons of 50 doubles or more, is currently on pace for a mid-to-late June return.

Red Sox beat Yankees 11-6 to clinch AL East for third consecutive season

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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.