A random observation from last night’s Yankees-O’s game.
In the third inning, Adam Jones singled. It should have scored J.J. Hardy, but Alex Rodriguez deked him into thinking he had the ball and was going to tag him. Hardy stopped at third when he could have scored without a throw. While the Orioles prevailed, in a low-scoring game like last night’s, it could have been a big deal.
Thing about it, though? It in no way should have worked. Watch the play:
Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale is frantically waving Hardy around because he knows where the ball is. Hardy, rather than watch and follow his base coach’s direction, got suckered by A-Rod.
John Smoltz — who earlier in the game forgot that the infield fly rule existed — gave A-Rod kudos for the deke. I noticed a lot of people on Twitter did too. And you know that if Jeter had made that move, minstrels would already be roaming the countryside, singing ballads about the play and further burnishing His legend.
But that play was all on Hardy’s lack of focus. It never shoulda worked.
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.