Chad Billingsley trying to avoid Tommy John surgery

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Chad Billingsley was ruled out for the season a while ago, but the Dodgers right-hander is trying to determine if he’ll need Tommy John elbow surgery and the 12-18 month recovery timetable that comes with it.

Billingsley has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, but was able to play catch regularly for the past week and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that he “now will ramp up to see if the ligament can withstand the rigors of pitching.”

Any hope that Billingsley can avoid going under the knife and continue to pitch effectively with a partially torn elbow ligament stems from his receiving two different platelet-rich plasma injections that are intended to aid the healing process.

After a very disappointing 2011 season Billingsley bounced back with a 3.55 ERA and 128/45 K/BB ratio in 150 innings before being shut down in late August. He’s under contract for $11 million next season and $12 million in 2014, with a $14 million option or $3 million buyout for 2015.

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.