Nick Markakis at least three weeks from returning

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Whatever odds Nick Markakis had of playing for the Orioles again this season took a hit today, as the team announced that he won’t have the pin removed from his fractured thumb as hoped.

Instead that will have to wait another week, which likely means Markakis is at least three weeks from potentially seeing game action.

Baltimore making a deep playoff run could make a Markakis return possible, but even that would assume no further setbacks and a seamless return from a pretty serious injury.

Markakis fractured his thumb being hit by a CC Sabathia pitch on September 8 and the Orioles have recently turned to Chris Davis as their primary right fielder in his absence, with Jim Thome taking over as designated hitter.

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.