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Red Sox defeat Astros 6-3 to clinch second consecutive AL East title

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The race for the AL East championship finally came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the Red Sox sewed up the division with a 6-3 win over the 100-win Astros. Drew Pomeranz led the way with his fourth quality start of the month, firing one run, two walks and three strikeouts over six strong innings.

The Astros only managed to put one runner in scoring position during the first six innings, but Jose Altuve singled to lead off the seventh and Carson Smith promptly gave up three back-to-back-to-back base hits after replacing Pomeranz, allowing Evan Gattis and Yuli Gurriel to plate a pair of runs and snap the shutout attempt. David Price, who was rumored to be sitting out of Saturday’s game, entered to get all three outs of the inning and closed out the seventh with a three-pitch strikeout to George Springer.

The Astros’ rally barely made a dent against the Red Sox’ five-run drive, however. The offense combined for five runs in the fourth and fifth innings, forcing Lance McCullers Jr. off the mound during his last start of the regular season. He issued five runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings, including Rafael Devers‘ RBI double (his 13th of the year) and Mitch Moreland‘s two-RBI double (his 34th of the year).

Mookie Betts and Brian McCann traded solo home runs in the last few innings of the game, but the Red Sox held on to a three-run advantage for the win and the division title. Craig Kimbrel manned the ninth inning, allowing a home run and double before striking out the side to quash the Astros’ chances of tying their franchise 102-win record.

With the Red Sox’ win, the Twins are set to face off against the Yankees in Tuesday’s AL wild card game. Given their 93-68 record, however, the Sox won’t be looking at any home field advantage in the playoffs, barring an upset of the Indians’ ALDS matchup. The Astros’ 100-61 record guarantees them home field advantage in the ALDS, while the Indians’ 101-59 record gives them home field advantage through the rest of the postseason.

MLB and MLBPA announce first set of COVID-19 test results

MLB COVID-19 test results
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
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On Friday evening, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced the first set of results for COVID-19 testing as part of the mandatory intake screening process under MLB’s COVID-19 Health Monitoring & Testing Plan. Per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics are not part of this data because their testing has not yet been completed.

There were 38 positive tests, accounting for 1.2% of the 3,185 samples collected and tested. 31 of the 38 individuals who tested positive are players. 19 different teams had one or more individuals test positive.

Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri notes that the positive test rate in the U.S. nationally is 8.3 percent. The NBA’s positive test rate was 7.1 percent. MLB’s positive test rate is well below average. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with MLB’s testing or that it’s an atypical round of testing. Rather, MLB’s testing population may more closely represent the U.S. population as a whole. Currently, because testing is still somewhat limited, those who have taken tests have tended to be those exhibiting symptoms or those who have been around others who have tested positive. If every single person in the U.S. took a test, the positive test rate would likely come in at a much lower number.

Several players who tested positive have given their consent for their identities to be made known. Those are: Delino DeShields (link), Brett Martin (link), Edward Colina, Nick Gordon, and Willians Astudillo (link). Additionally, Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez has not shown up to Red Sox camp yet because he has been around someone who tested positive, per The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.