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J.D., Bogaerts lead Red Sox to 108th win

September 30, 2018

BOSTON -- The Red Sox wrapped up their regular season for the ages on Sunday with yet another rocket from J.D. Martinez, this one a three-run homer to right-center that Eduardo Rodriguez caught in the bullpen while he was warming up.Xander Bogaerts, who has been the team's somewhat underrated star

BOSTON -- The Red Sox wrapped up their regular season for the ages on Sunday with yet another rocket from J.D. Martinez, this one a three-run homer to right-center that Eduardo Rodriguez caught in the bullpen while he was warming up.
Xander Bogaerts, who has been the team's somewhat underrated star all season, clubbed a two-run shot to center onto a black tarp covering a section of bleachers. Mookie Betts officially won the American League batting title that had been all but certain to go to him for days.
Rick Porcello tuned up for his start in the AL Division Series Game 3 with two hitless innings.

All of this in a 10-2 triumph over the Yankees, who can earn a trip back to Fenway Park on Friday if they can beat the Athletics at Yankee Stadium in Wednesday's American League Wild Card Game.
"A lot of good signs today offensively. Mookie setting the table and Mitch [Moreland] going the other way and hitting the wall, some good things," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It was a good way to finish the season but it really doesn't matter. Now it starts. Now we go get ready for whoever we face on Friday. It's going to be a little bit different because we have no idea who we're going to play. Prepare for both and go out there Friday and play."

Martinez's homer was No. 43 on the season, giving him the most by any Red Sox player in his first season with the club, surpassing Dick Stuart, who had 42 in 1963. Martinez's 130 RBIs are the most by a Boston player since David Ortiz in 2006 and were the most in the Majors this season.
"It's great, it's obviously honoring and stuff like, but I think I'm more proud of us winning 108 games really," said Martinez.
Bogaerts finished with 23 homers and 103 RBIs. Betts hit .346, becoming the first Red Sox player to win the batting title since Bill Mueller in 2003 and the first to lead the Majors in hitting since Hall of Famer Wade Boggs in 1988.

"I put in a lot of work to get where I've gotten," said Betts. "Just have to continue to work to stay where I'm at and be the best player I can be."
With hardly a cloud in the sky on a perfect autumn afternoon, the Red Sox wrapped up their 108-54 season with an enjoyable and nearly stress-free nine innings.

The only cause for angst came in the bottom of the first, when Eduardo Nunez had an awkward landing on first base while running out a grounder and appeared to twist his right ankle. But Nunez -- who has had his share of leg ailments -- was able to stay in the game and remains on track to be on the roster for the postseason.
"He stepped on the pitcher's foot but he's OK," said Cora. "He ran the bases well and moved around well."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Cora was displeased with Rodriguez's focus and execution in Saturday's relief appearance, and he let everyone know it in his postgame news conference. A day later, Rodriguez had a chance to redeem himself and did so, firing a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts and earning the win. The Red Sox expect Rodriguez to play in an important role in the postseason, be it as a starter or reliever.
"That was good," said Cora. "The velocity was good. He threw a changeup to [Brett] Gardner, good pitch there. Backdoor cutter to strike [Aaron] Judge out up in the zone that was a lot better than last night. I talked to him last night and told him, 'You've got one inning tomorrow. We have to pitch with conviction, there's a purpose.' And he did."
SOUND SMART
The Red Sox are the 12th MLB team since 1900 to win as many as 108 games. They are one of seven AL teams to do it. Cora's win total is the second highest for a rookie manager in history, trailing only Ralph Houk, who got 109 victories with the 1961 Yankees.
HE SAID IT
"Can't wait. Friday, I can't wait for that one. Went through it last year [as bench coach for the Astros], and it was amazing. For how special that group is [in Houston], I do feel we're in the same boat. It feels the same way. A bunch of athletes that can do a lot of things offensively. Pitching-wise, we're going to be all right. Should be fun." -- Cora

UP NEXT
The Red Sox will have workout days at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and host Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday against either the Yankees or A's. The time is to be determined. Lefty ace Chris Sale will pitch Game 1 for Boston. This will be the first time the Red Sox have had home-field advantage in a postseason series since the 2013 World Series.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.