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Red Sox, Yanks bring two best records into fight for first place

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NEW YORK (AP) Baseball’s most bitter rivals, ready to tangle once again.

And this time, the Red Sox and Yankees bring the two best records in the big leagues into a fight for first place in the AL East.

Following their throwback brawl at Fenway Park last month, the teams square off on Yankee Stadium soil for the first time this season Tuesday night. New York ace Luis Severino is scheduled to start the opener of a three-game showdown against Boston left-hander Drew Pomeranz.

“Look, Red Sox-Yankees is always big, and obviously they’re a great team. So we understand there will be a lot of excitement around it,” first-year Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday. “There will be more eyes on this one and that’s what you love about being a part of this.”

With the weather finally warming up on the East Coast, both teams are scorching hot.

Mookie Betts and the Red Sox boast the top mark in the majors at 25-9, good for a one-game edge over New York. Boston has bounced back from a three-game skid to win eight of its last 12, including three in a row.

Meanwhile, the streaking Yankees (24-10) are on a rampage. Picking off quality challengers one by one, they’ve gone 15-1 since April 21 for their best 16-game stretch since 1980.

“They’re rolling, we’re catching our stride again, and it’ll be fun,” said Red Sox ace Chris Sale, not slated to pitch in the series after beating Texas on Sunday. “I wish I was getting the ball in one of those games, but there’s only so much you can do.”

Powered by Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge and a steady pitching staff, the Yankees have outscored opponents 98-37 over the past 16 games. New York took three of four at defending champion Houston to go with series sweeps of the Twins, Angels and Indians.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” first baseman Neil Walker said. “We’re playing really good baseball and it seems like we’re never out of games.”

Riding a six-game winning streak that’s produced their best start since 2003, the Yankees have won four games this season when trailing after eight innings. They did that five times all last year.

“We feel like, for the most part, we expect to win every day,” said Tyler Austin, one of several Yankees rookies making a huge impact already.

Austin was in the middle of the bench-clearing melee at Fenway on April 11. He charged the mound after Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly threw at him twice, hitting Austin in the side with the second pitch.

Boston players were upset that Austin slid spikes-first into shortstop Brock Holt earlier in the game.

Four people got ejected, and Kelly and Austin were suspended by Major League Baseball. Several players and coaches were fined – even Boston rookie manager Alex Cora – in the aftermath of a Yankees-Red Sox fight that rekindled memories of Lou Piniella vs. Carlton Fisk; Alex Rodriguez vs. Jason Varitek; Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez.

Boston won two of three in the series, including a 14-1 rout when Sale beat Severino in the opener. That was part of an early 17-1 surge that helped the Red Sox build a 7 1/2-game bulge over the Bronx Bombers before they took off on their own tear, which began the day before 21-year-old second baseman Gleyber Torres was called up from the minors.

Torres, batting .327 and playing splendid defense, will get his first taste of the storied rivalry this week. He hit a three-run shot in the ninth inning Sunday against Cleveland, besting Mickey Mantle (1953 vs. Boston) to become the youngest Yankees player with a walk-off homer.

Both teams are off Monday, and Boston hopes that will help Betts shake off a bruised right shoulder.

Betts, leading the majors in homers (13), runs (36) and batting average (.355), left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after getting hit by a throw while running the bases.

“He’s OK,” Cora said. “He didn’t feel great. So I just took him out. It just makes sense for us. He’s got a day and a half off and it should be something day-to-day. He should be hopefully ready for Tuesday.”

Severino (5-1, 2.11 ERA) pitched his first career shutout last Wednesday in Houston. But he’s 2-5 with a 4.82 ERA vs. the Red Sox, and right-handed starters are 1-15 with a 7.48 ERA against them this season.

Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.39) faces David Price (2-4, 5.11) on Wednesday night, and left-hander CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.39) opposes Rick Porcello (5-0, 2.14) in the Thursday night finale.

New York has won nine straight home games, its longest streak in eight years.

AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report from Arlington, Texas.

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Angels 11, Blue Jays 6: Mike Trout was a beast, homering twice and driving in seven. The second homer was a grand slam in the fourth. Honest question: do you not consider intentionally walking Trout with the bases loaded there? I guess you don’t do that when it’s tied at three and it’s so early but the thought probably at least briefly crossed Charlie Montoyo’s mind. Trout has now hit 10 home runs in his past 19 games to move into a tie for the AL lead. He’s a fairly solid ballplayer as far as these things go, yeah?

Reds 3, Astros 2: The Reds are hard to figure. A lot of the time they look like the second division club their record suggests they are. Other times they’re fun and interesting and do things like sweep the Astros. Baseball, man. Here they rallied for two in the bottom of the ninth with two outs for the comeback win. Nick Senzel singled home the tying run, took second on a throwing error and Jesse Winker singled him in for the walkoff. It was the first time the Astros have been swept all year.

Yankees 12, Rays 1: More like Blake Shelled, amirite? The reigning Cy Young winner walked four guys and gave up six runs in the first inning and was chased after getting only one out. The game at that point was basically over. CC Sabathia, meanwhile, picked up his 250th career win. Gary Sánchez hit a three-run homer and drove in four. Gleyber Torres hit a grand slam to turn an 8-1 game into a 12-1 game late. Just a general blood bath. The Yankees have won five straight games and have now built up a 3.5-game lead over the second-place Rays in the AL East. The Rays and Yankees meet again in a couple of weeks. The Yankees have to like that. They’ve taken seven of nine from Tampa Bay.

Nationals 6, Phillies 2; Nationals 2, Phillies 0: Patrick Corbin was strong, allowing one run over seven, with both Gerardo Parra and Brian Dozier homering and doubling in runs. The nightcap was the Max Scherzer show, of course, with a broken nosed and black (and brown and blue)-eyed Scherzer tossing seven shutout innings while striking out ten. He’s one of the few men who could use that “you should see the other guy” joke and have it be true. He mowed the Phillies down, jack.

Athletics 8, Orioles 3: Chris Bassitt took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and Josh Phegley had a three-run homer as the A’s completed a three-game sweep. Baltimore has lost eight in a row and is on a pace to lose 116 games.

Padres 8, Brewers 7: Franmil Reyes hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning. Eric Hosmer hit a two-run shot earlier. Manny Machado, as we noted last night, thought he had a three-run homer but didn’t, but since the Pads won they’re all probably fine with it. Yasmani Grandal, Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun all homered in a losing cause.

Mariners 8, Royals 2: Hello! My name is Domingo Santana. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Or something. Two homers and five RBI for the Mariners’ right fielder. Who is not left-handed.

Pirates 8, Tigers 7: The Tigers led 7-1 after their half of the third inning but woofed it away anyway. Bryan Reynolds hit a three-run homer in the sixth to complete the Pirates’ rally. He had three hits in all.

Braves 7, Mets 2: Freeman hit a two-run shot in the first, the Mets tied it at two in the fourth and Josh Donaldson broke that tie with a two-run homer of his own in the sixth. From then on the Braves just added with RBI doubles from Ozzie Albies and Nick Markakis, whose pinch-hit two-bagger drove in two. In the end the Braves won their eighth of ten on their ten-game home stand and pushed their NL East lead to four games over Philly.

Cubs 7, White Sox 3: Willson Contreras hit a three-run homer in the first and homered again in the third en route to a five-RBI night. Lucas Giolito lost for the first time in 13 starts, going back to April 6.

Indians 10, Rangers 4: The Tribe put up a five-spot in the first thanks to a three-run homer from Jason Kipnis and a solo shot from Roberto Pérez. Kipnis would add a second homer in the fifth. The Indians have won 10 of their last 14 games.

Red Sox 9, Twins 4: A day after a 17-inning game often comes down to whose starter can simply show up for the longest amount of time. Eduardo Rodríguez did that for Boston, going seven to pick up the Sox pen. Brock Holt drove in three with a single, a sac fly and by drawing a bases-loaded walk. Boston has won seven of eight. The Twins have dropped three of four.

Cardinals 2, Marlins 1: Offense was hard to come by here but Paul Goldschmidt — who didn’t even enter the game until the ninth inning — hit a walkoff solo shot in the bottom of the 11th to end it:

Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 4: Arizona took an early 2-0 lead but it wouldn’t last as the Rockies got to Zack Greike for five runs on 11 hits over seven. Ryan McMahon was the big bat for Colorado, going 3-for-4 and driving in three. Daniel Murphy homered as well as the Rockies’ mastery of the Dbacks continued. They’ve taken seven of nine from Arizona this season.

Dodgers 9, Giants 2: Chris Taylor homered twice and Cody Bellinger went deep as the Dodgers picked up their 50th win on the season in their 75th game. The bad news: starter Rich Hill left after one inning because of left forearm discomfort. He’s going to have an MRI today but he’s headed to the injured list.