Sox's quest to four-peat as AL East champs ends

September 10th, 2019

BOSTON -- turned in yet another stellar start for the Red Sox on Monday night at Fenway Park. The only thing lacking? The run support he almost always gets.

This time, the bats went stone cold in a 5-0 loss to the Yankees that officially ended Boston's run of American League East titles at three straight.

Though it was inevitable for weeks, this defeat eliminated the Sox in the division race, dropping them 18 1/2 games behind their rivals with 18 games left in the season.

The franchise-record, 108-win season of a year ago, when the Red Sox beat the Yankees by eight games in the division and then took them out in four in the AL Division Series, feels like a long time ago.

From New York to London to Boston, the Yankees absolutely took it to the Red Sox this season, taking 14 of the 19 rivalry matchups.

"They're that good and we're that far behind -- bottom line," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "They've been very good the whole season. Very consistent."

Then there are the Red Sox, who have been consistently inconsistent, as Cora has stated for several weeks.

If only the Sox could have gotten even one other starting pitcher to perform like Rodriguez has, perhaps they would still be in contention.

"I would say this year I'm healthy. That's what I think has been the big change for me," Rodriguez said. "Work ethic with the trainers and everything has been working really well for me this year, and like I say, being healthy this year has helped me a lot to be where I am right now."

In this one, the lefty gave up five hits and one run over six innings. He walked one and struck out nine and fell to 17-6. The 26-year-old still has an outside shot at 20 wins.

"That's a great outing right there," said Cora. "We've been talking about him not being able to go deep into games coming into the season and they did a good job fouling off pitches. But his stuff was that good even with 115 or whatever it was."

For the Red Sox, the highlight of this night came a few minutes before the game started when legendary slugger threw out the first pitch, marking his first public appearance since he suffered a gunshot wound in the Dominican Republic on June 9.

The crowd roared with approval, and Ortiz then took the microphone and made some heartfelt remarks.