Orioles send Kevin Gausman back to Triple-A

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Kevin Gausman allowed just one run over 5 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high seven batters yesterday in a start against the Red Sox, but the Orioles announced this afternoon that he has been optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk. While it’s a little strange on the surface, they have done it with an eye on his workload.

Gausman has already logged 78 2/3 innings this season between the majors and the minors. The 23-year-old right-hander threw 129 2/3 innings last year, so a big jump could put him at risk for being shut down in September. Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com that today’s decision will allow Gausman to pitch the rest of the year without an innings limit.

“Instead of knee-jerking with it yesterday, we decided to think about it a little bit because we had a day to play with. His last day down there if we wanted to bring him back would be the last day of the All-Star break. So this allows us, if and when he comes back, to use him for the rest of the year according to how the opposition lets him go in the game. That, and we needed a relief pitcher (today). We needed an arm in the bullpen.

“You just don’t want to have it jump up on us the middle of September or something and not be able to us him.”

Gausman owns a 3.51 ERA and 24/13 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings over six starts with the Orioles this season and has allowed one earned run or less in four of them. He could make a major impact during the second half if the Orioles take the reins off him.

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.