Oblique tear puts Ian Desmond on DL

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The Nationals suffered a big blow Sunday, with shortstop Ian Desmond heading off to the disabled list with a torn oblique.

An MRI today revealed the extent of the injury, and Desmond is expected to miss at least a few weeks, CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman reports.

Desmond has been fighting the oblique for at least a month, and while he stayed in the Nationals’ lineup, he opted to skip the All-Star Game to try to rest it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The incredible thing is that Desmond increased his production while playing through the injury. Over his last 19 games, he was hitting .388 with six homers.

“He was playing so good with it, hitting rockets,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I just couldn’t read it. And they don’t MRI those things usually, we haven’t all year long. We just know it was kind of a strain.”

With Desmond out, the Nationals will play Danny Espinosa at shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi at second base. Lombardozzi was mostly playing left field this season while Michael Morse was sidelined. His at-bats in the outfield will now go to Corey Brown and Roger Bernadina, at least until Jayson Werth comes off the DL. Brown is coming up from Triple-A to replace Desmond on the roster.

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.