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Bradley Jr. robbing Judge’s HR highlights Red Sox’s win over Yankees

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BOSTON — Major league home run leader Aaron Judge hit a towering fly ball toward the triangle in Fenway Park’s center field, and Jackie Bradley Jr. began drifting over toward the bullpen wall.

That’s when Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts knew.

“Jackie does this little thing where, midway, while the ball is in the air, he starts timing it,” said Betts, who hit a two-run homer and also scored Boston’s third run on Sunday night to help the Red Sox win 3-0 and split their doubleheader with the New York Yankees.

“Once I saw him start timing it, I figured he had a chance to catch it. He made it look easy,” said Betts, who had three hits in the night game but was happy to join the cheers for Bradley. “It made the hair stand up on my arms.”

David Price (5-2) struck out eight in eight innings, and Bradley went over the bullpen wall to rob Judge and send the Yankees to their first shutout of the season.

A day after the teams played 16 innings over 5 hours, 50 minutes, they spent another long day at Fenway Park and ended the four-game series the way they started: with the Yankees trailing the first-place Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the AL East.

CC Sabathia allowed two hits over six innings in the opener, and Didi Gregorius hit a solo home run to give New York a 3-0 victory.

It was also 3-0 in the nightcap when Judge, the winner of the All-Star Home Run Derby, came up with a runner on first and launched one toward the 420-foot marker in center. Bradley stalked it, and at the last moment leaped against the wall that juts out from right-center to pull the ball in.

“I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong center fielder,” said Judge, who failed to reach base for the first time in 43 games. “Jackie’s been making plays like that for a long time.”

The sold-out crowd gave a huge cheer, and another after Matt Holliday struck out to end the inning. The Red Sox gathered at the edge of the dugout steps to congratulate Betts – with Price pushing his way through to thank him.

“It was special,” Bradley said. “It was electric. It was just a fun moment to be a part of.”

Price allowed seven hits. One night after giving up a tying homer in the ninth to send the game into extra innings, Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 24th save.

Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave up three runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out nine. The Yankees are the last team in the majors to be shut out.

“We probably gave one away and we stole one,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They got one off our closer, and we got one off their closer.”

Betts homered over the billboard above the Green Monster, his 17th of the year, with one out in the third inning to end Boston’s scoreless streak at 24 innings. He made it 3-0 when he singled to lead off the sixth, took second on an error by second baseman Starlin Castro, third on a groundout and scored on Dustin Pedroia‘s second hit of the game.

Indians hitting coach Van Burkleo opts out due to COVID-19

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CHICAGO — Cleveland Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo has opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Team President Chris Antonetti said Friday that Van Burkelo had been contemplating his departure for some time because of a personal high-risk condition and for his family. The Van Burkleos have a special needs child.

Antonetti said the challenges of traveling and the lack of room in road ballparks may have been the tipping point for the 57-year-old Van Burkleo, who is in his eighth season with the club. He had been under fire for Cleveland’s early offensive struggles.

“We are fully supportive of Ty’s decision,” Antonetti said, adding Van Burkleo remains employed by the team. “He’ll continue to provide support remotely and contribute any way he can from home.”

Antonetti said Alex Eckelman will join the staff to assist Victor Rodriguez and Justin Toole working with the Indians hitters.

Antonetti said the team spoke with all its coaches and staff before the season about working amid the inherent risks from the coronavirus. He said Van Burkleo was committed, but that the wear and tear of the protocols, particularly on the road, may have made it impossible for him to feel safe.

Van Burkleo’s departure further complicates several issues with the Indians’ coaching staff.

Manager Terry Francona will miss his sixth straight game Friday while addressing a gastrointestinal issue he’s combated for months. The 61-year Francona did not make the trip to Chicago and it’s not yet known if he’ll be back next week.

The Indians are off Monday before opening a two-game series at home against the Cubs.

First-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. has been filling in for Francona. Earlier this week, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh left his regular spot to help Alomar in the dugout. Cleveland has been without bench coach Brad Mills all season after he decided to spend time with family following the tragic drowning of his grandson this offseason.

Antonetti acknowledged the season has already presented numerous hurdles.

“We’ve had to deal with a lot of things and a lot of adversity over the course of the last few months and that’s been highlighted in the last week or so with some leadership challenges,” he said.