Red Sox

Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

red_sox_celebrate_092417.jpg

Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

CINCINNATI -- Mookie Betts wasn't about to stop. Neither are the Red Sox, who are heading home with a chance to win another division title.

Betts doubled with the bases loaded to tie it in the eighth inning and dashed home from second base on an infield single, rallying the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory Sunday that moved them closer to an AL East championship.

By winning 14 of its last 17 games, Boston has left virtually no opening for the second-place New York Yankees to catch up. The Red Sox, already assured a playoff spot, completed an 8-1 road trip that put them in excellent position to win a second consecutive division crown, something they've never done.

Coupled with New York's 9-5 loss in Toronto, the Red Sox reduced their magic number to three. They lead the Yankees by five games with seven to play.

That means Fenway Park can start preparing for a potential celebration. Boston finishes the regular season at home with three games against Toronto and four vs. Houston.

"We're learning a lot about ourselves," said Doug Fister, who pitched into the sixth. "We can put ourselves in a corner early and fight back. If we need a touchdown, the boys can put up a touchdown."

Boston inched closer with more late-game flair. The Red Sox lead the majors with 11 wins when trailing after the seventh inning.

They loaded the bases against Raisel Iglesias (3-3), who had blown only one save chance all season. Betts had fouled a ball off his foot on Friday night and missed one game. His double tied it 5-all, and he sprinted home on the still-sore foot - diving headfirst into the plate - on Rafael Devers' infield single.

"I felt he had a chance to beat it, and with me running it was going to be a tough play at the plate," Betts said.

Robby Scott (2-1) got the win, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 39 chances. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.

Billy Hamilton helped the Reds go up 4-1. He tripled home a run and brought the crowd to its feet by scoring after getting caught in a rundown between first and second. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a wild throw, and Hamilton kept going when nobody covered home.

"In my whole career, that's one of the best ones, especially since I was in a rundown and just trying to get to second base and then I end up scoring," Hamilton said.

GOT THEIR BACKS

Red Sox and Reds players stood for the national anthem. Boston manager John Farrell said if any of his players decide to follow the example of other athletes and make a statement during the anthem, he'll support them. "We strive to create an environment that's inclusive," Farrell said. "We would have their back as an organization if that's the expression they chose. It's their constitutional right."

INTERLEAGUE

The Red Sox are 12-1 against the Reds all-time in the regular season and have won nine straight, their longest winning streak against any NL team since interleague play started in 1997. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 16-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-15.

90 LOSSES AGAIN

The Reds reached the 90-loss mark for the third straight year. They lost 98 games in 2015 and 94 last year. It's the first time they've had three straight 90-loss seasons since 1930-34.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez ran the bases before the game, his next step in recovering from a sprained knee.

Reds: Hamilton was back in the lineup after getting a day off. He's played twice since returning from a broken left thumb.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Brett Anderson (1-2) on Monday night. Pomeranz is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

Reds: After a day off, they finish with three games in Milwaukee and three at the Chicago Cubs. Deck McGuire (0-0) makes his first major league start Tuesday night against Zach Davies (17-9).

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

MLB Rumors: Red Sox' Mookie Betts trade talks 'evolving' with Dodgers, Padres

MLB Rumors: Red Sox' Mookie Betts trade talks 'evolving' with Dodgers, Padres

It appears the Boston Red Sox are moving closer to parting ways with the face of their franchise.

On Thursday, it was reported the Red Sox and San Diego Padres were discussing a potential blockbuster trade involving Mookie Betts. Now, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reports those trade talks have "evolved" with both the Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been rumored to be a suitor for Betts throughout the offseason.

Speier writes:

According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox continue to discuss the possibility of a Mookie Betts trade with multiple suitors. The team is weighing potential combinations of big leaguers and prospects offered by the Padres as well as the Dodgers, and remains engaged with both teams about the possibility of a deal involving their superstar right fielder.

The fact that discussions are ongoing with multiple teams is not a guarantee that Betts will be dealt. It’s possible that the Red Sox will enter the 2020 regular season with their superstar — with the possibility of exploring his trade value at the deadline if the team is not clearly in contention. But the team’s willingness to consider dealing the four-time All-Star and 2018 A.L. MVP appears serious.

That's certainly a change of tune from Thursday's report, which referred to a potential Betts deal as "unlikely."

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Both San Diego and L.A. make sense as possible trade partners for the Red Sox. The Padres have the top prospects to make a deal worthwhile, and the Dodgers have the financial flexibility to take on the $96 million remaining on David Price's contract to help Boston get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold.

Betts, 27, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season.

Tomase: Pros & cons of trading Betts to Padres

Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Report: Former Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez to join Mets as non-roster invite to spring training

Midway through the 2019 MLB season, the struggling Boston Red Sox made an attempt to shake things up on their bench and get them back into the playoff race. That decision involved designating Eduardo Nunez for assignment.

Nunez spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox after he was acquired at the 2017 MLB trade deadline. Nunez quickly endeared himself to Boston fans by batting .321 and smashing eight homers in 38 games with the team.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

But after his first season, Nunez's production tailed off. He was still productive during the team's 2018 World Series run, though he was hampered by a knee injury, before things bottomed out in 2019. He was hitting just .228 at the time of his release and his defensive range was declining because of his balky knee.

Now, after remaining out of MLB work for almost half a year, it looks like Nunez is getting one more shot at sticking around in the MLB.

According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, the New York Mets have invited Nunez to join them as a non-roster invite at spring training in 2020. 

It may be tough for Nunez to ultimately win a spot with the Mets, who also have former Red Sox shortstop/third baseman Jed Lowrie on the team. But he is going to be on a minor league deal as a result of this signing.

And if injuries strike and Nunez proves himself, perhaps he could eventually earn a roster spot.

We'll soon see what happens with Nunez, but it is nice to see the 32-year-old get another chance to play at the MLB level, even if it is just a spring training invite.