The Yankees have given CC Sabathia a little breathing room. Ichiro Suzuki doubled home Derek Jeter in the bottom of the sixth inning to stretch the Yankees’ lead to 2-0.
Jeter drew a one-out walk and scored all the way from first base after Suzuki put one into the right-center field gap. Robinson Cano struck out looking and Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked before Troy Patton replaced Jason Hammel to get Raul Ibanez to striking out swinging for the final out of the inning.
Of course, there’s a compelling case to be made that the Orioles should already be on the board. Nate McLouth hit a long fly ball along the right field line in the top of the sixth inning that landed very close to the foul pole. It was ruled foul on the field, but the play was reviewed after Buck Showalter went out to argue. However, the umpires quickly emerged to confirm the original call. It’s possible that the ball could have nicked the foul pole — and in fact, one usher told Craig Sager of TBS that it did indeed hit the pole — but there’s no definitive evidence yet. On a side note, that usher could be looking for a new job soon.
And so, it’s 2-0 Yankees as we move to the top of the seventh.
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.