Boston Red Sox

Red Sox extend division lead to five games with 5-1 win over Yankees

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Red Sox extend division lead to five games with 5-1 win over Yankees

BOSTON - Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled in two runs and singled in another, and Rick Porcello pitched six innings of a combined three-hitter to help the AL East-leading Red Sox beat New York 5-1 on Sunday and extend their lead over the Yankees to five games.

The Red Sox won for the 14th time in 17 games, taking two out of three from New York for the second weekend in a row. The archrivals meet again in the first week of September for a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Porcello (8-14) allowed all three New York hits, striking out four and walking three to win his fourth straight start. Three relievers provided a perfect inning apiece.

Porcello has allowed two runs or fewer in all six career starts against the Yankees in Fenway Park. That's the longest such stretch for a Red Sox pitcher since at least 1913, the ballclub said.

Sonny Gray (7-8) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings.

Brett Gardner homered near the Pesky Pole for the Yankees, who had won five of their last six.

Devers, Sale making mark on history as Red Sox battle for division

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Devers, Sale making mark on history as Red Sox battle for division

BOSTON — The Red Sox on Saturday lost a game in which Chris Sale pitched and Rafael Devers homered. Let the Yankees’ 4-3 victory be a reminder: the American League East race isn’t going to close any time soon. At least, it shouldn’t. 

But even in close losses, there’s a parallel track to the pursuit of the division that should be a compelling sideshow for Red Sox fans: history.

The importance of Chris Sale breaking Pedro Martinez’s club single-season strikeout record is minimal compared to KO’ing the Yankees. Yet, with every passing start, tracking each K becomes a tad more intriguing. 

The southpaw on Saturday surpassed 250 strikeouts for the season, becoming just the third pitcher to do so in his first 25 games. Randy Johnson did that in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001, and Pedro Martinez did it in 2000 as well.

But now, unexpectedly, it’s not just Sale’s work that’s worth watching. He has a partner in the pursuit of bookkeepers. 

Devers, in just 20 games, has become the hitting foil for the ace. He ripped his eighth home run in Saturday’s 4-3 loss, a seventh-inning shot just to the right of the yellow line reaching out of the triangle in center field. The homer was also a record breaker, because no one else under the age of 21 has hit eight home runs in their first 20 games, per Elias. That’s in major league history, to be clear. 

The record for a player of any age is nine home runs, matched most recently by Trevor Story last year, and once upon a time by George Scott, in 1966.

A chubby left-handed hitter swatting home runs everywhere, defying everyone’s expectations? It’s almost too stunning to properly contextualize or explain. 

“I try not to look too much at videos because I would go out there with the mentality of what this guy has,” Devers said. “I just try to do my batting practice and do my fielding practice every day and just keep things the same.”

“If it's in the strike zone I try to be aggressive with it, and try to lay off the ones outside the strike zone. But I don't look for any location or any type of pitches.”

He’s that good: he steps in and rips and the results have been stunning. Almost Ruthian. Or, in fact, Ruthian.

Devers on Saturday became the first player under the age of 21 to homer in three consecutive games against the Yankees since Ruth did it in 1915, per Elias. Ruth, of course, was still with the Sox then. Those home runs happened to be the first three of his career.

Devers’ 28 hits through his first 20 games are the most by a Red Sox hitter since Johnny Pesky had the same amount in 1942.

Four Sox hitters have hit safely against the Yankees in their first five games against them since the age of 21: Jack Rothrock (1925), Ruth (1914-15), and Ted Williams (1939).

Sale needs 63 strikeouts to tie Martinez’s 1999 mark of 313. He shouldn't have a hard time meeting that figure if he makes another, say, seven starts.

Red Sox' AL East lead trimmed following 4-3 loss to Yankees

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Red Sox' AL East lead trimmed following 4-3 loss to Yankees

BOSTON -- CC Sabathia thought about retiring after a knee injury put the 37-year-old left-hander out of commission earlier this month.

He didn't, and his return to the New York Yankees' rotation was perfect timing for a team fighting to stay in the AL East race.

Tyler Austin hit a three-run home run, Todd Frazier added a solo homer and Sabathia retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced as the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Saturday night.

Sabathia (10-5), returning from a stint on the disabled list because of sore right knee, allowed two runs and four hits to earn his first victory since July 21. He also improved to 3-0 in three starts against Boston this season. Dellin Betances got the last three outs for his ninth save.

"I felt confident coming in. But to be able to go out and pitch well against that team and get us a big win, feels really good," Sabathia said.

He said he's surprised himself by how fast he was able to return to action.

"I would have said, `No way.' But everything's worked out," he said. "I want to keep going out there and helping the team."

The Yankees won for the fifth time in six games and snapped Boston's three game winning streak to pull within four games of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.

Chris Sale (14-5) struck out nine, but was tagged for the four runs and seven hits. He is still looking for his first victory in the rivalry. He had allowed three runs or more only once over his previous six starts and had a 1.19 ERA in three starts against the Yankees. New York is 4-0 in games he has started.

The Yankees needed all four runs to preserve the win.

The score was 4-3 the eighth when Andrew Benintendi struck out, but advanced to first on a wild pitch by reliever David Robertson. Hanley Ramirez followed by lining a double to left field. The Yankees then intentionally walked Chris Young to load the bases.

But Robertson was able to settle down and struck out Xander Bogaerts on three straight knuckle curves.

Boston got within a run an inning earlier when Rafael Devers got ahold of reliever Adam Warren's fastball, driving it just over the center-field boundary for a home run. It was confirmed after an umpire review. Devers' eighth homer was the latest highlight in the rookie's remarkable run since being called up to the majors July 24.

"Even when we lose, we don't go down easy," Sale said. "They throw some tough arms out there. We put some good at-bats together...We just couldn't squeeze it out."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Placed INF Garrett Cooper on the 10-day disabled list with left hamstring tendinitis and recalled INF Tyler Austin from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... Todd Frazier took an 81 mph slider from Chris Sale off left shin in second inning. He briefly got attention from the training staff, but was able to stay in the game.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who left mid-batter with back spasms in the fourth inning of Friday's win, was still experiencing some soreness on Saturday. But Farrell said that "He's of the mindset he's going to be ready to go for his next start."

DUBIOUS RECORD

Aaron Judge stuck out swinging in the fifth to set a major league-record with 36 consecutive games that he has struck out.

RING `EM UP

Sale now has 250 for the season, joining Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to record 250 or more in 25 or fewer games in a season.

NICE PLAYS

There was a pair of standout plays on both sides Saturday.

Mookie Betts, the second batter Sabathia faced, sent a screaming liner back toward the box. The lefty snagged it by quickly raising his glove , with the ball sitting in the top edge of the webbing for a `snow cone' catch. After the grab, Sabathia held it for a few seconds, walked off the mound and broke into a grin.

Later, in the fourth, Jackie Bradley Jr. drifted back to the center-field warning track on Austin's towering drive. Bradley leaped with his arm outstretched and made the grab at the top of his full extension while his body went up against the wall.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Sonny Gray is 5-4 with a 1.88 ERA over his last nine starts. It is the majors' second-lowest ERA since June 25.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello has won each of his last three starts, but is 0-3 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this season.