Red Sox - 000 000 030 - 3 5 0 Yankees - 000 000 005 - 5 3 1The Boston Red Sox are the 2016 American League East Champions!
The Red Sox clinched their eighth division title because the Blue Jays lost to the Orioles. In the Bronx, however, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly combined to blow the game in the bottom of the ninth as Mark Teixeira smacked a walk-off grand slam. The Red Sox had a golden opportunity to end New York's slim postseason hopes, but that will have to wait until tomorrow night.
After last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015, winning the division is very sweet. But I can only imagine that whatever post-game celebration the Red Sox had was awkward and subdued.
Clay Buchholz (6-1-0-2-6, 89) was magnificent. The only hit he allowed was a little infield roller by Brett Gardner in the fourth that third baseman Brock Holt could not made a bare-handed grab of.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox could do nothing with Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell (7-2-0-5-2, 94). They threatened in the fifth. Hanley Ramirez walked, but was caught stealing. Then Jackie Bradley walked. And Holt walked. With Mitchell unable to find the strike zone, Andrew Benintendi swung at the first pitch and fouled to first. Then Sandy Leon swung at the first pitch and grounded out to second. Maddening.
Once Mitchell was gone, though, the Red Sox pounced on Adam Warren. Leon reached when his routine grounder to second was booted by Starlin Castro. Marco Hernandez pinch-ran and had to stop at third on Dustin Pedroia's ground-rule double to right-center. Xander Bogaerts lined out to third and Hernandez was close enough to the bag to get back safely. David Ortiz was walked intentionally, loading the bases. Mookie Betts (6-for-10 against Warren) chopped a ground ball over the head of third baseman Chase Headley and down the left field line for a two-run double. After Ramirez was intentionally walked, New York brought in Tommy Layne. Bradley popped to short center and after pinch-hitter Aaron Hill was walked intentionally, Benintendi flied to left.
Koji Uehara needed 25 pitches to get through the eighth, but all he surrendered was a one-out walk. That was smooth sailing compared to what was to come. As Kimbrel took the mound in the ninth, news arrived from Toronto of Baltimore's victory and the Red Sox's clinching of the East. Now, three quick outs would make the night doubly enjoyable, as New York's (pipe) dreams of playoff baseball would also end. Gardner began the ninth with a hard single to center. After Gardner took second on indifference, Kimbrel walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Then Kimbrel threw a wild pitch. Then Kimbrel walked Gary Sanchez, loading the bases. Joe Kelly began warming up. Then Kimbrel walked Brian McCann to force in a run. (In Kimbrel's defense, his 2-2 pitch was very clearly a strike (and thus the first out), but home plate umpire John Tumpane (who was dogshit all night long) called it a ball.)
Manager John Farrell came out to change pitchers and Kimbrel actually looked surprised. He had thrown 28 pitches, recorded 0 outs and left the potential winning run on first - and he was shocked he was being lifted? Is he insane? Kelly began restoring some order, striking out Castro on three pitches and getting Didi Gregorius to foul out to Bogaerts. Kelly got a called strike on Teixeira, but the horse-faced douche bonnet hit his 0-1 pitch over the fence in right-center. And the Yankees began celebrating as if they had won the East (and were not actually 10 games out).
Pedroia, 2BBoston's magic number for winning the AL East is 1 with 5 games to play. ... Also: Orioles/Blue Jays.
BOS --- TOR 5.0 BAL 7.0 MFY 11.0