Middlebrooks leaves game in 9th with tight hamstring

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Middlebrooks leaves game in 9th with tight hamstring

SEATTLE -- Will Middlebrooks left Sunday's game after experiencing some tightness in his left hamstring following a steal of second base in the top of the ninth inning.

Manager Bobby Valentine was unsure how serious the injury was, noting that, typically, muscle pulls are best evaluated a day later. Middlebrooks, too, through a team spokeswoman, declined comment until Monday.

With Middlebrooks unavailable in the bottom of the ninth, Valentine had to do some shuffling. Shortstop Mike Aviles was scratched about an hour before gametime for illness, with Nick Punto taking over at short.

When Middlebrooks felt the tightness, Valentine moved Punto to third and inserted Aviles at short for the final inning and a half.

If Middlebrooks is sidelined for a day or so, the Sox have three options at third: Aviles, Punto, and newly-acquired Brent Lillibridge. If the Sox attempt to play a few days without Middlebrooks going on the disabled list, it could be a challenge, since, with 13 pitchers, they currently have just three reserves on the bench.

They could opt to option Clayton Mortensen to Pawtucket in exchange for another position player.

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Price tries to nail down A.L. East clincher in Bronx

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Price tries to nail down A.L. East clincher in Bronx

The Red Sox can clinch the A.L. East title for the first time since 2013, and do it at the home of their arch rivals, with a victory at Yankee Stadium tonight. 

Left-hander David Price (17-8, 3.91) takes the mound with the Red Sox magic number at 1. A Sox win, or a Toronto Blue Jays’ loss to the Baltimore Orioles, will give Boston the division title.

Brock Holt gets the start at third and Andrew Benintendi is in left field against Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa (4-3, 4.30).

The Red Sox (92-64) have the best record in the A.L., just ahead of the Texas Rangers (92-65), who have clinched the A.L. West title. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Brock Holt 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

David Price LHP

 

YANKEES

Brett Gardner LF

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Gary Sanchez DH

Starlin Castro 2B

Chase Headley 3B

Didi Gregorius SS

Aaron Hicks RF

Austin Romine C

Tyler Austin 1B

Luis Cessa RHP