Adam Wainwright is looking like his old, pre-surgery self

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Adam Wainwright’s comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery got off to a rough start, as he allowed 15 runs in his first 14 innings after missing all of last season.

Those early struggles have kept Wainwright’s overall numbers looking mediocre, but a closer look reveals that he’s been pretty close to his usual, top-of-the-rotation self for a while now.

Wainwright has a 3.74 ERA and 84/25 K/BB ratio in 89 innings since that rough three-start stretch to begin the season, allowing just five homers in 14 starts. And since tossing a complete-game shutout on May 22 he’s thrown 59 innings with a 3.66 ERA and fantastic 58/13 K/BB ratio.

His batting average on balls in play hasn’t been very good and that in turn has inflated his ERA a bit, but based on Wainwright’s secondary numbers and velocity he’s basically all the way back. His average fastball has clocked in at 90.3 miles per hour over the past 60 days, compared to his pre-surgery career mark of 90.7 mph, and his Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) of 3.09 overall this season is nearly identical to his 3.02 mark in 2010 and slightly better than his 3.32 mark in 2009.

It remains to be seen how well Wainwright can hold up physically as his workload approaches 200 innings, but if he doesn’t wear down don’t be surprised if he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half.

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.