Red Sox

Had 'em all the way: Red Sox finally wrap up A.L. East

Had 'em all the way: Red Sox finally wrap up A.L. East

BOSTON — Only with gray skies and uncomfortable intrigue did the Red Sox finally close out their second straight American League East title, an appropriate backdrop for a season that was sometimes stormy but ultimately rewarding.

The Sox on Saturday simultaneously ensured their division crown and their Division Series match-up against the Astros, who fell 6-3 to the Sox at Fenway Park in the clincher. An improved Drew Pomeranz and huge seventh-inning outs from David Price ended the Astros’ chances of catching the Indians for home-field advantage in the American League, thereby finalizing the Sox as their first-round opponent.

This is the ninth division title for the Sox since the AL East was formed in 1969, and their first time doing so in back-to-back years.

The Division Series starts in Houston on Thursday, before returning to Fenway Park for at least one game on Oct. 8, a week from Sunday. The Sox have one more game to play in regular season, one game to actually breathe easy, on Sunday.

A loss for the Sox would have forced them to pitch Chris Sale on Sunday, because the Yankees won their game Saturday afternoon, 2-1 over the Blue Jays. Had the Sox lost on Saturday, the lead in the division would have been down to just one game going into the final game of the regular season. Using Sale would have meant he wouldn’t be ready for Game 1 of any Division Series, and worse.

Drama — and potential crisis — averted.

Facing one of the Astros’ expected postseason starters, righty Lance McCullers, the Sox struck first in the fourth inning for two runs, capitalizing on consecutive one-out walks to Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland. Hanley Ramirez struck right away for an RBI single, and Rafael Devers’ double made it 2-0.

The Sox, for once, appeared comfortable in the fifth inning, knocking out McCullers as they pulled out to a 5-0 advantage. The action came again with one out, when Xander Bogaerts got things going with a double and a pair of singles followed, one from Andrew Benintendi to make it 3-0 and another from Mookie Betts that put two men on.

After a double steal, a double from Moreland — who gave the Sox much more than they could have hoped for at the plate — grew the lead to 5-0.

Pomeranz, who showed improved velocity after an uncomfortable dip in September, allowed just three hits and two walks in his six innings.

Price, pitching on back-to-back days for the first time with the Sox, got three key outs in the seventh after the Astros had scored twice against Pomeranz and Carson Smith.  Mookie Betts hit his 24th homer in the seventh and Craig Kimbrel allowed a home run to his old former Braves catcher Brian McCann before getting the final outs for the save. 

Devers off DL; Pomeranz returns to start Tuesday

Devers off DL; Pomeranz returns to start Tuesday

The Red Sox have activated third baseman Rafael Devers from the 10-day disabled list and sent left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Devers hurt his shoulder in Seattle in late June and appeared to aggravate the injury sliding into home on July 4 in Washington. Perhaps because of the injury, he slumped in July, hitting .138 (4-for-29). Overall, he's at .241 with 14 homers, 48 RBI a .715 OPS. The 21-year-old leads MLB with 19 errors. 

Devers is in the starting lineup tonight in Detroit, batting sixth.

In other injury news, left-hander Drew Pomeranz will return to the rotation Tuesday night in Baltimore. Pomeranz, coming back from biceps tendinitis, had a strong rehab outing for Pawtucket on Thursday - a six-inning start in which he allowed one run, one hit, struck out five and walked two.

"We’re very happy with the way he pitched,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters in Detroit on Friday after Pomeranz threw in the bullpen at Comerica Park. “It’s not about the result. The line was great, obviously. But he was able to command his fastball [and] his breaking ball felt normal.”

Pomeranz was 1-3 with a 6.81 ERA before going on the DL. With left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez expected to miss a significant amount of time with a severe ankle sprain, Pomeranz will now take over that spot in the rotation.

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Report: Red Sox trade target Jeurys Familia close to A's deal

Report: Red Sox trade target Jeurys Familia close to A's deal

Earlier in the week, the New York Post's Joel Sherman reported the Boston Red Sox were among several teams inquiring about the availability of New York Mets reliever Jeurys Familia.

But it appears the veteran closer is likely headed to the West Coast, according to ESPN's Buster Olney:

In 40 appearances this season for the last-place Mets, Familia has posted a 2.88 ERA with 17 saves and a 1.23 WHIP. The Red Sox have been actively seeking to add another veteran arm to their bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline, a search that has included talks for Orioles closer Zach Britton according to FanCred Sports' Jon Heyman.

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