It was painfully obvious that Francisco Cordero’s toe was killing him while he was getting lit up in four of his six appearances for the Astros. Or at least, that’s what the team is going to tell anyone who asks.
Cordero was placed on the disabled list Friday after taking three blown saves and three losses in his first two weeks with his new club. He gave up 11 runs and 13 hits in five innings, making his 5.77 ERA with the Blue Jays look a whole lot better by contrast.
With Cordero out, the Astros have finally decided to close with their best reliever, Wilton Lopez. Lopez appeared to be the obvious choice to close this spring before the decision to move Brett Myers back to the pen resulted in his return to a setup role. Lopez has a 2.52 ERA in 39 1/3 innings to date, putting him on pace to finish under 3.00 for the third straight year.
Right-hander Mickey Storey was called up to replace Cordero in the bullpen.
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.