“The home run is always a good play”

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There has been a lot of grousing during the Yankees recent struggles. Grousing not unlike we heard early in the season: the Yankees are too home run-dependent! They have to play small ball!

The people who say this often cite the Yankees trouble with runners in scoring position as a failure to be a fundamentally sound team. That their situational hitting skills suck, and that they’re swinging for the fences too much.

Bah. If anyone can find an expert who will argue that hitting with runners in scoring position is a skill as opposed to something that just happens, I’ll give them a shiny new silver dollar.  There is no switch one turns on or off when it comes to hitting with runners on.  Batters try to hit all the damn time.

In any event, if you still think that the Yankees are too home-run dependent, go read Tyler Kepner’s latest at the times. He uses history to debunk that notion, and makes a claim that should be as obvious as all hell but which some people need reminded of:  “the home run is always a good play.”

Good stuff from Tyler, as always.

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.