Red Sox hire hitting coach Tim Hyers

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The Red Sox added hitting coach Tim Hyers and assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett to Alex Cora’s coaching staff on Saturday, per a team announcement. Hyers is fresh off of a two-year stint as the Dodgers’ hitting coach and director of Minor League hitting, while Barkett recently completed a one-year gig as the Pirates’ Triple-A manager.

Hyers, 46, played first base for the Padres, Tigers and Marlins during the mid-1990s. His major league career flamed out after just four seasons, but he picked up a gig as a hitting coach for the Tigers’ Single-A affiliate in 2002 and later served as an area scout, minor league hitting coordinator and interim coach for the Red Sox. He broke into the majors again when the Dodgers hired him in 2016 and helped the team to two playoff appearances.

“I’m a hitting coach at heart,” he told the Rockdale/Newton Citizen back in August, several weeks before the Dodgers started trudging through a two-week slump. “I don’t want to manage. I love working with hitters. I like the grind, the ups and downs. I was that type of player. I grinded through my career and had some good times and bad times. All players go through it and you’ve got to keep working, trust the process. One big thing is keeping it simple, but also not forgetting about who you are as a player. A lot of them want to do too much. It’s about not forgetting who you are and sticking with your strengths.”

Barkett, 43, lasted several months as an infielder/outfielder for the 2001 Pirates before capping his career in the majors. He has not coached at the big league level yet, but has acquired extensive experience working with the minor league affiliates of the Pirates, Braves, Marlins and Tigers over the last 11 seasons.

Cora will be formally introduced as the Red Sox’ manager on Monday. Excepting bullpen coach and catching instructor Dana Levangie, he’ll be rolling with a brand-new coaching staff for the 2018 season, including first base coach and outfield instructor Tom Goodwin, third base coach and infield instructor Carlos Febles and bench coach Ron Roenicke. He has yet to name a pitching coach.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.