It only took him 14 starts, but Cliff Lee is finally on the board. He pitched eight innings of two-run ball as the Phillies defeated the Mets 9-2 on Wednesday.
The Phillies were actually down for much of the game, failing to get on the board until the seventh. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit back-to-back homers off Chris Young in that frame, giving Philadelphia a 3-2 lead. The Phillies then piled on against the beleaguered Mets bullpen, scoring three more runs in both the eighth and ninth innings.
The barrage lifted the Mets’ bullpen ERA to 5.11 on the season. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo pointed out that it’s more than one-third of a run worse than that of the next worst bullpen.
Utley’s two-run homer was his second since he returned from the disabled list last week. He’s 6-for-22 in five starts and one appearance off the bench.
Lee ended up 0-5 with a 4.13 ERA over 13 starts in his long winless streak. His only other winless streak in excess of six starts came in 2004, when he went 0-6 with a 10.51 ERA in a nine-start span for the Indians.
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.