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Yankees 3, Red Sox 0: Will the Red Sox please please pretty please score a run for Chris Sale? 04.27.17 at 9:32 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Chris Sale delivers against the Yankees during another tough-luck loss on Thursday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox starter Chris Sale delivers against the Yankees during another tough-luck loss on Thursday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

One day, the Red Sox will score a run for Chris Sale. And when they do, that day will be glorious.

But until that day comes, we’re left with nights like Thursday, when Sale was nearly perfect until the ninth and it didn’t matter, because the Red Sox offense turned Masahiro Tanaka into . . . Chris Sale.

The Red Sox had averaged one run of support with Sale on the mound in his first four starts, and they didn’t even reach that number in Thursday’s 3-0 loss.

Sale reached 10 strikeouts for the fourth straight start. He reached 98 mph with his fastball. He didn’t walk anyone. He froze hitters with sliders and blew them away with heat while working at his trademark relentless pace, lowering his ERA to 0.72 through eight innings before coming back out for the ninth and allowing three straight hits and a run. An inherited runner later scored, leaving his final line at eight innings, eight hits, two runs. His ERA climbed to 1.19.

His only “mistake” until then, such as it was, was crossing up catcher Sandy Leon with a slider that ended up sailing practically through Leon and to the backstop, advancing Aaron Hicks to third, where he’d score the game’s only run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Otherwise, Sale was practically untouchable. He recorded seven strikeouts in the first three innings and left the Yankees feeling like contact counted as a moral victory.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox had even less success with Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who matched Sale zero for zero while allowing only three hits in the complete-game shutout. Tanaka barely broke 91 mph, but it didn’t matter against the punchless Red Sox, who didn’t even benefit from the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia atop the order.

This marks the fifth time in their last seven games that the Red Sox have failed to top two runs, and the third time in that span they’ve been shut out — one each by division rivals Toronto, Baltimore, and now New York. They began the night ranked 13th in the American League in runs, and their ranking didn’t improve.

The thing is, Tanaka didn’t even enter the game on some kind of epic run. He was 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA, though he has gotten progressively better since allowing eight runs on Opening Day against the Rays.

But with the Red Sox ranked dead last in home runs and basically reduced to a singles-hitting team, Tanaka went to work by throwing first-pitch strikes. The Red Sox started the night leading the American League in average and on base percentage, but ranked only 10th in slugging, and that ranking didn’t improve.

Will this problem fix itself with the arrival of warmer weather? Maybe. But David Ortiz is retired and that’s not going to change, which means if this is to flip, it will have to come from within.

Read More: chris sale, Masahiro Tanaka, Red Sox, Yankees
Yankees GM Brian Cashman says Red Sox are now Golden State Warriors of baseball 12.06.16 at 7:08 pm ET
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Todays Sports)

Brian Cashman.

In the wake of the Red Sox acquiring left-hander Chris Sale to complete what could be a tremendous rotation in Boston, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman found his thoughts drifting to the NBA.

Speaking in Maryland at the winter meetings on Tuesday to Yankees beat reporters, including Newsday’s Erik Boland, Cashman compared the Red Sox to the Golden State Warriors.

“That’s a wow,” Cashman said. “Boston’s like the Golden State Warriors now in baseball. They got their [Kevin] Durant and their [Draymond] Green and [Klay] Thompson and [Steph] Curry.”

Hyperbole aside — the Red Sox did lose retiring Silver Slugger David Ortiz, after all — Cashman seemed to enjoy casting the Red Sox as overwhelming favorites, a position the Yankees routinely found themselves in when ex-Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino reveled in labeling them the Evil Empire.

Per Boland, he told the New York media that he’s not trying to put extra pressure on Boston.

“That’s got nothing to do with me,” he said. “That’s a byproduct of being in a big market and having a good team. . . . I would think the expectations of the Red Sox are sky high. I’m not doing that.”

Read More: brian cashman, chris sale, Golden State Warriors, Red Sox
Yankees sign Matt Holliday to one-year deal, further shrinking Red Sox DH market 12.04.16 at 10:32 pm ET
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Matt Holliday

Matt Holliday

Cross another potential Red Sox DH off the list.

The Yankees on Sunday agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal with veteran slugger Matt Holliday, according to multiple published reports.

Holliday, who turns 37 next month, hit .246 with 20 homers last year for the Cardinals, who did not pick up his $17 million option.

The 13-year vet is a lifetime .305 hitter with 295 home runs. With fellow veteran Carlos Beltran agreeing a day earlier to a one-year contract with the Astros, the Red Sox are now looking at a slim market for DH types.

Old friend Mike Napoli is one option, along with Pedro Alvarez, who slugged .504 with 22 homers for the Orioles last year.

Read More: matt holliday, MLB trade rumors, Red Sox, winter meetings
Closing Time: Red Sox offense goes cold in David Ortiz’s final game in Yankee Stadium 09.29.16 at 10:26 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

On the heels of their second AL East crown in four years, the Red Sox called off the dogs.

With Henry Owens making just his fifth start of the year and a host of regulars resting, the Red Sox dropped a 5-1 decision to the Yankees on Thursday that completed New York’s sweep.

One night after the Red Sox clinched the division, Owens allowed four hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out six. It was a serviceable effort, all things considered, from a pitcher who hadn’t made an appearance in three weeks.

It didn’t take long for the Yankees to jump on the 24-year-old, however, as cleanup hitter Starlin Castro doubled to plate Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. In the fifth, Ellsbury smacked an RBI double of his own to put the Yankees back up 2-1.

The Red Sox offense made C.C. Sabathia look like he was in his mid-2000’s form, managing four hits and a run off the lefty over seven innings while striking out eight times. Xander Bogaerts served as one of the few sources of offense, driving his 21st home run of the season in the fourth inning.

David Ortiz struck out and walked in his final game against the Yankees before being replaced by Brock Holt. Ortiz was honored before the game by former opponent Mariano Rivera, as well as with a book full of testimonials from Yankees greats.

Closing Time note

David Ortiz’s eight strikeouts at Yankee Stadium this season are the most of any ballpark outside of Fenway.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— The bullpen didn’t do its part in the game in the sixth. After Heath Hembree allowed a walk and single, Robby Scott loaded the bases and proceeded to walk in a run and let another in on a passed ball.

— The battery of Owens and Ryan Hanigan had trouble catching baserunners, allowing a pair of stolen bases.

— The Red Sox grounded into a pair of double plays.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Bogaerts tied the game with a solo shot in the fourth inning. The 21st dinger for the 23-year-old keeps him fifth on the team in home runs.

— After allowing a single to start the inning, Junichi Tazawa shut down the rest of the Yankees batters in the seventh, including a strikeout of slugger Gary Sanchez.

Read More: henry owens, Red Sox, xander bogaerts, Yankees
Closing Time: Red Sox lose to Yankees, but clinch American League East anyway when Blue Jays lose 09.28.16 at 10:49 pm ET
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Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez is doused with champagne by Eduardo Rodriguez on Wednesday after the Red Sox clinched the AL East. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez is doused with champagne by Eduardo Rodriguez on Wednesday after the Red Sox clinched the AL East. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox filed into the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday unsure of how to act.

They had just blown a 3-0 lead in the ninth inning against the Yankees, getting walked off on Mark Teixeira’s grand slam. At the same time, they had just clinched the American League East with Toronto’s loss to Baltimore.

Manager John Farrell faced his team in a scene captured by NESN’s cameras and told them “not to let one inning” ruin the accomplishment of outlasting maybe the toughest division in baseball.

The pressure valve released, the wary clubhouse exploded.

The champagne celebration that followed officially completed another worst-to-first transformation. The Red Sox may have dropped a 5-3 decision to the Yankees, but they still punched their ticket to the division series on Wednesday night in about the strangest way imaginable.

“Honestly the journey’s incomplete,” Farrell told reporters. “We continue on. I couldn’t be more proud, and I told them after the game: don’t let one inning take away from that they’ve done for seven full months. They’re AL East champions, we’re AL East champions and we’ve got a lot of work left ahead of us. But one inning should not take away from the fact that we’re champions.”

The Red Sox return to the postseason as division champs for the first time since 2013, when they also went worst-to-first before winning the World Series.

They could afford to lose in shocking fashion, because the Blue Jays blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Orioles.

While that game went final, closer Craig Kimbrel took the mound in the ninth. He allowed a single before walking three and throwing a wild pitch. Joe Kelly relieved him and retired two batters before Teixeira drilled a 99 mph fastball over the center field fence for the strangest clincher maybe ever.

The hero on Wednesday should’ve been MVP candidate Mookie Betts, who chopped a two-run double into left field to break a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I think we can be really dangerous,” Betts said. “I think we showed today how we grind through games — yesterday, even, too. We’re not going to be easy to beat.”

Before Betts’ heroics, the star was right-hander Clay Buchholz, who made a strong bid for the third spot in the postseason rotation by tossing six dominant one-hit innings. He did not allow a run, keeping the ball down and spending the night on the corners. He struck out six, walked two, and allowed just one hit — an infield single to Brett Gardner leading off the fourth.

The problem for the Red Sox was that Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell matched him with seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Mitchell did walk five — including the bases loaded in the fifth — but the Red Sox didn’t break through until the eighth, against the Yankees bullpen.

Catcher Sandy Leon reached on an error by second baseman Starlin Castro leading off and pinch runner Marco Hernandez took third on Dustin Pedroia’s ground-rule double. After Xander Bogaerts lined out to third and David Ortiz was intentionally walked, Betts chopped one in front of home plate that bounded high over third baseman Chase Headley and into left field for a two-run double.

Ortiz then scored aggressively on a wild pitch to give the Red Sox breathing room. He’ll get one final shot at October in his farewell season.

“It was crazy,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to celebrate on that field so bad. But it is what it is – at the end, being the first place team in the American League East, we’re going to celebrate anyway.”

Closing Time note

The Red Sox won the division for the fourth time in 22 years. Their last two division titles (2007, 2013) resulted in World Series titles.

(Rob Bradford contributed to this report.)

Read More: MLB Playoffs, Red Sox, Yankees,
Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez (2 HRs) continues torrid September by lifting Red Sox to sweep of Yankees 09.18.16 at 11:42 pm ET
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Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) watches his three run home run during the fifth inning against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) watches his three run home run during the fifth inning against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez is not of this world. At the very least, no ballpark can contain him.

Ramirez continued one of the most torrid stretches of his career on Sunday against the Yankees by smashing two home runs, including the go-ahead shot in the seventh, to lift the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory and four-game sweep that might just deal a death blow to the Yankees’ playoff hopes.

Ramirez, who began the series with a dramatic game-winning three-run homer, ended it with a three-run homer in the fifth and then the solo shot over everything in left in the seventh to send the Red Sox to Baltimore for a four-game showdown with the second-place Orioles.

“I just was just listening from the dugout, ‘Make him pay, make him pay, make him pay,'” Ramirez said of the first homer, which got the Red Sox back in the game.

The Red Sox needed Ramirez’s heroics, because left-hander Drew Pomeranz once again struggled with his command, allowing seven hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings, as well as another homer his 12th in 13 games.

Pomeranz got in trouble right off the top, allowing Brett Gardner to lead off the game with a double. He scored on a two-out single by Didi Gregorius.

The Yankees added another run in the third on the 16th homer of the season from catcher Gary Sanchez before chasing Pomeranz in the fourth. An infield single, double, and a walk loaded the bases, and the Yankees plated two runs with fielder’s choices before Farrell summoned right-hander Heath Hembree for the final out.

“Got in a few jams that I didn’t get myself out of,” Pomeranz said. “It’s kind of frustrating, a few balls that don’t leave the infield, but that’s baseball. They put them in the right spot and they did a good job. Most importantly, we won the game. This team’s amazing. It seems like we’re never out of reach. They really picked me up tonight. It’s really fun to watch.”

The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the fifth. Bryan Holaday led off with a double before Xander Bogaerts worked a one-out walk. Both runners advanced on Sabathia’s error after he caught Mookie Betts’ liner, but Ramirez rendered their respective choice of bases irrelevant with a line drive home run to left that made it 4-3.

“Everything, like I say, everything’s coming together,” Ramirez said. “When we need a big play, you know, it’s come. When we need a big rally, we’ve been doing it. Everything’s coming together at the right time.”

The Red Sox tied the game in the sixth after singles by Travis Shaw, Aaron Hill, and Jackie Bradley Jr. plated a run. David Ortiz pinch hit to a standing ovation, but struck out. The Red Sox failed to score.

No matter. Ramirez took care of everything in the seventh against reliever Tyler Clippard by unloading on an off-speed pitch and blasting deep into the night to give the Red Sox their four-game sweep and a two-game lead in the division.

MVP candidate Mookie Betts helped the Red Sox hang on with a pair of brilliant diving catches, including one on Gardner leading off the ninth.

Closing Time note

Reliever Koji Uehara closed it out in the ninth for his seventh save. His last three saves have come against the Yankees, including two in July before he suffered the pectoral injury that nearly ended his season.

Read More: Drew Pomeranz, hanley ramirez, Red Sox, Yankees
Andrew Benintendi explains how lights got in way of Red Sox win 08.11.16 at 11:13 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

It was just two nights ago when Andrew Benintendi stood in front of the television in the middle of the Red Sox’ clubhouse answering questions after his team’s win. It is the spot usually reserved for players who have had the biggest impact on the game’s outcome, a description that certainly fit the rookie after his three-hit game.

This time, the get-together was under entirely different circumstances.

Benintendi offered 54 seconds of explanations for what was the pivotal play in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Red Sox Thursday night in the same very spot he stood 48 hours before.

“It went in the lights, but that’s no excuse,” he said. “I should have caught it.”

What the Red Sox’ left fielder was referencing was the Jacoby Ellsbury line drive hit virtually right at him in the eighth inning, bringing in two runs and giving the visitors a lead they wouldn’t surrender. (To see the play, click here.)

The play came with one out, the bases loaded, the Red Sox leading by a run, and reliever Brad Ziegler on the mound. On a 2-0 pitch, Ellsbury hit a ball that Benintendi had to move slightly to left. But at the last moment, the 22-year-old had the ball skip past his outstretched glove, resulting in what was ruled a double.

“I think it was just one of those things. Not much you can do about it,” Benintendi said. “I tried to put my glove up where I thought it was going to be. It just went right over my glove.”

He added, “I saw it off the bat, but as I made my way to the left the ball is coming back to me and it went into the lights.”

Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox, Yankees,
Craig Kimbrel on knee after brutal outing: ‘It’s something I’m going to battle with until it’s all gone’ 08.10.16 at 12:30 am ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell (right) lifts closer Craig Kimbrel (46) in the ninth on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox manager John Farrell (right) lifts closer Craig Kimbrel (46) in the ninth on Tuesday against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

After one of his worst outings of the season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel revealed that his surgically repaired left knee continues to give him trouble.

He certainly didn’t look right in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Yankees, walking four to force in a run before being lifted in favor of right-hander Matt Barnes, who nailed down the victory with a strikeout of Mark Teixeira to earn the first save of his career.

“I walked four guys,” Kimbrel said. “I mean, I was out there watching the same game y’all were. I didn’t have my best stuff tonight. In that situation I tried to make pitches to get strikeouts, I didn’t really want them to put the ball in play. Bad day, bad night. But, on the positive side, we still won the game. We put this outing behind us and we go into tomorrow.”

The performance wasn’t as concerning, in some respects, as what Kimbrel said after. He acknowledged that his knee continues to give him trouble, a month after surgery, though he stopped short of blaming it for Tuesday’s woes. He had never walked four batters in less than an inning.

“When you’re sore, does it affect you?” he said. “I wouldn’t say it affected me in my performance, but I definitely, it’s something I’m going to battle with until it’s all gone. I’m still four weeks out of surgery. I’m good enough to pitch, I’m good enough to play, but it’s not going to affect me each and every night.”

Barnes, meanwhile, got the job done, continuing a breakout season as one of manager John Farrell’s most reliable arms.

“With the two left-handers coming, just wanted the power, particularly against Teixeira where we’ve seen that power kind of works as a better matchup,” Farrell said. “And how he [Barnes] has been with men on base this year. He has been outstanding as far as stranding inherited runners. No more important time than tonight.”

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Read More: Craig Kimbrel, John Farrell, matt barnes, Red Sox
Rick Porcello won’t reveal what Chase Headley did to set him off, sparking near-brawl between Red Sox, Yankees at 12:09 am ET
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Rick Porcello won his 100th career game on Tuesday night. He became baseball’s third 15-game winner. He improved to 11-0 at Fenway Park.

But all anyone will want to talk about is the near-brawl he incited by barking at Yankees third baseman Chase Headley in the seventh inning of a 5-3 victory.

Headley led off with a double to center that took a funny hop off the scoreboard and briefly eluded center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who recovered to fire an off-balance strike to third with Headley attempting to stretch the play into a triple.

The perfect one-hop throw nailed Headley at the bag and he stayed down on the field, perhaps hoping for a replay challenge. Porcello advanced toward him, pointed toward his eyes and then behind him, the two exchanged words and the dugouts emptied.

So what prompted it?

“I don’t really have anything to comment on that,” Porcello said. “That’s baseball stuff. Happens down on the field, and just going to let it stay there between me and Headley.”

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Read More: brawl, Chase Headley, Red Sox, rick porcello
Closing Time: Andrew Benintendi, Rick Porcello, fracas highlight Red Sox win 08.09.16 at 10:23 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi notched his second career three-hit game. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Andrew Benintendi notched his second career three-hit game. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Most knew this was probably going to have the feel of an important game.

For the Red Sox, the stakes of their showdown with the Yankees on Tuesday night were obvious. Coming off a 5-6 road trip, with the comfort of six home games staring at them, John Farrell’s team needed to get things going in order to keep pace in the playoff race.

And thanks in part to the electricity supplied by rookie Andrew Benintendi, another lock-down outing from Rick Porcello, and even a bench-clearing fracas in the seventh inning, the atmosphere didn’t disappoint.

The Red Sox kicked off a stretch of 23 games in 23 days with a spirited 5-3 win over the Yankees at Fenway Park, helping the hosts keep pace in the race for both the American League East and Wild Card.

Leading the way was Porcello, who improved to 11-0 at Fenway this season. The righty claimed his 15th win of the season, giving up just two runs on seven hits over eight innings. He also struck out six and walked just one.

It marked the first time in Porcello’s career he has totaled at least eight innings in three straight starts, having come off back-to-back complete games.

“Yeah, he was very strong once again,” manager John Farrell said. “Like many of his starts this season, he gets to that middle portion of the ballgame and really begins to settle in. I thought he had very good feel for his changeup and his curveball once again, sinker in the bottom of the zone. Eight strong innings. Just an outstanding job on his part. Two opportunities for shutdown innings, he continues to execute them very well.”

Spearheading the offense was Benintendi, who claimed his second three-hit game while putting his batting average at .500 (8-for-16) for his brief major league career.

“My job as the guy hitting in the nine-hole was to get on base and to flip the lineup, and that’s what my approach was today, and it worked out,” Benintendi said.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, brawl, Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
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