Former No. 2 overall draft pick Pedro Alvarez doesn’t show signs of life often, but he’s put on a display in Cleveland the last two days, smacking two homers in back-to-back games.
The Pirates third baseman also doubled in the 9-5 win over the Indians today, giving him his first three-hit game since April 21, 2011. He’s raised his average from .189 to .207 the last two days.
Alvarez became the first player this year to have two straight multihomer games. Mike Napoli was the only player to do it in 2011. It wasn’t the first time Alvarez had ever done it, though; he was one of two players to perform the feat in 2010 (Carlos Quentin being the other).
Unfortunately, the homers are pretty much all Alvarez has going for him this season. He’s up to 12 in 193 at-bats, but his on-base percentage is a dreadful .271. Prior to this weekend, he was in a slump that had seen him hit .143 with just one homer in his previous 33 games.
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.