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Inbox: Who will round out Sox's playoff roster?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from Boston fans
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

What's your playoff roster? 
-- @abromson

A lot of tough calls, for sure. If you go by past history, the Red Sox will go with a four-man rotation, a seven-man bullpen and a five-man bench. The rotation will consist of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez. The bullpen is much trickier. It is a given that Craig Kimbrel will be the closer and Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Steven Wright will all be trusted setup men. Nathan Eovaldi should also have a role in the bullpen. That leaves two more spots. Do you take two more righties or mix in a lefty? If they take a lefty, it will be Bobby Poyner or Brian Johnson. If they don't take a lefty, there are two spots open between Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree and Tyler Thornburg. I think Workman will make it no matter what.

What's your playoff roster? 
-- @abromson

A lot of tough calls, for sure. If you go by past history, the Red Sox will go with a four-man rotation, a seven-man bullpen and a five-man bench. The rotation will consist of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez. The bullpen is much trickier. It is a given that Craig Kimbrel will be the closer and Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Steven Wright will all be trusted setup men. Nathan Eovaldi should also have a role in the bullpen. That leaves two more spots. Do you take two more righties or mix in a lefty? If they take a lefty, it will be Bobby Poyner or Brian Johnson. If they don't take a lefty, there are two spots open between Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree and Tyler Thornburg. I think Workman will make it no matter what.

I'll call Eduardo Nunez the starter at third base. That leaves a bench of Rafael Devers, Steve Pearce, Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart and Brock Holt. Brandon Phillips is great insurance if one of the other infielders gets hurt. At this point, he is too repetitive with Nunez. You could make a case for taking Phillips or Tzu-Wei Lin instead of a third catcher, but I think they like the flexibility that Swihart brings at the plate (switch-hitter) and in the field (the ability to play many positions).

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How can the Red Sox justify a playoff roster spot for Sandy Leon? I know people say he is a great game caller, but his hitting is completely nonexistent. 
-- Chris G., Norfolk, Va.

Sale, Porcello and Price all love throwing to Leon. That is no small factor. You want your top three pitchers to be as comfortable and confident as possible. By carrying three catchers, they can be aggressive about pinch-hitting for Leon early in the game. You saw this on Saturday when Holt batted for Leon in the fifth and clocked a go-ahead double.

Between errors and poor baserunning, Devers costs the Red Sox about 1.3 runs per game after deducting his offensive contribution. Shouldn't he be left off the postseason roster this year?
-- Paul D., Bristol, Conn.

Devers can impact a game in a hurry with his power. He has two weeks to get his swing right for the playoffs. If he can do so, his bat gives the team a possible difference-maker in October. I agree that his defense is concerning, and they'd probably have to remove him late in games. That said, I'd still have Devers on the roster.

With all the Red Sox's struggles in the 'pen -- especially in the setup role -- coupled with the lack of a left-handed reliever, why don't they try Rodriguez in the eighth for the playoffs. They could slide Eovoldi in as the fourth starter. I bet Rodriguez would thrive in that role just like Andrew Miller did, whom they traded to get E-Rod.
-- John C., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Rodriguez is too valuable to the starting rotation to be used in the bullpen. A championship team generally needs a solid four-man rotation in October. At times, you might shorten the rotation to three, but you can't do that for an entire playoff run. Manager Alex Cora is viewing E-Rod as a starter. You mentioned Eovaldi. Rodriguez has been much more consistent as a starter than Eovaldi. The hope is that Eovaldi can emerge into a flamethrowing weapon in the bullpen.

Is J.D. Martinez still in the Triple Crown race? Mookie Betts isn't going to slump anytime soon and Khris Davis will hit home runs. I want J.D. to win the crown, but can he?
-- Bella R., Tinley Park, Ill.

Martinez starts the week hitting .328, nine points behind Betts for the league lead. He has 41 homers, two fewer than Oakland's Davis. Martinez leads Davis in RBIs, 122-115. Sure, Martinez has a shot, but he'd have to get hot to gain nine points on Betts. Right now, I'd call it an outside shot. Either way, Martinez is having a fantastic season and will get strong consideration for the AL MVP Award.

Looking ahead, do you think the Red Sox will do any exploring over the offseason about either trades or promotions from within for a shot at third base? Or are they committed to Devers and his potential, given that even though he needs to upgrade both his hitting and fielding, he's still very young and somewhat raw?
-- Andy S., Birmingham, Ala.

If the Red Sox acquire anyone from outside the organization, it would be a short-term move. They have two promising corner infielders in their system in Michael Chavis and Brian Dalbec. Both have a lot of raw power. As for Devers, you can't give up on him after one tough year. Let's see what kind of adjustments he will make to get better.

How do you believe the current starting rotation stacks up compared to those of the 2004, '07 and '13 World Series teams?
-- Christopher T., Fair Oaks, Calif.

Great question. Let's see, in 2004, they went into the postseason with a rotation of Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield. Derek Lowe effectively ended up replacing Arroyo midway through the postseason. In '07, they had Josh Beckett, Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Wakefield. Jon Lester wound up taking over for Wakefield (injured) in the World Series. This year, they have Sale, Price, Porcello and E-Rod.

I think Sale at his best is right there with Schilling in 2004 and Beckett in '07. The question is whether he will be healthy enough to pitch like that. Keep in mind, Schilling also had health concerns in '04. If Price can overcome his history of tough starts in October, he is probably better than Pedro was by '04 and better stuff-wise than Schilling in '07, who was gutting his way through arm problems that season.

Porcello and E-Rod are right there with the Nos. 3-4 starters in 2004 and '07, though Lowe took his game up about three levels in that '04 postseason.

Hey, what does the AA stand for on Cora's cap?
-- Rich M., Courtice, Ontario

Sad story, actually. In late July, Ari Arteaga, a 16-year-old boy, died in a car accident. His father is J.D. Artega, a coach at the University of Miami, who is Cora's best friend. Cora will continue to pay tribute to Ari and his family by keeping the initials on his hat for the rest of the season.

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

Boston Red Sox

Yanks host Red Sox live on Facebook tonight

Boston's Eovaldi faces former club; Happ goes for New York
MLB.com

One of sports' most storied rivalries is coming to Facebook. Tonight's Yankees-Red Sox tilt at Yankee Stadium -- rescheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET due to a forecast of inclement weather -- will stream live on Facebook presented by Snapple in addition to New York and Boston local broadcasts and MLB Network for out-of-market viewers.

The unique viewing experience is part of MLB's partnership with the social media service, which included 25 exclusive streaming broadcasts in 2018.

One of sports' most storied rivalries is coming to Facebook. Tonight's Yankees-Red Sox tilt at Yankee Stadium -- rescheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET due to a forecast of inclement weather -- will stream live on Facebook presented by Snapple in addition to New York and Boston local broadcasts and MLB Network for out-of-market viewers.

The unique viewing experience is part of MLB's partnership with the social media service, which included 25 exclusive streaming broadcasts in 2018.

• Watch live stream of Red Sox vs. Yankees

Fans can tune in at www.facebook.com/MLBLiveGames or by logging onto Facebook's MLB live page from their phones, tablets, smart TVs or other streaming devices. (Note: The stream is blacked out locally in the New York and Boston markets, but the game will be televised by their local broadcasters.)

How to watch on mobile and desktop

1. Search for "MLB Live" on Facebook

2. Follow the "MLB Live" show page

3. Download the Facebook video app on your TV or streaming device and search for "MLB Live"

4. Or stream the game from your phone to a TV on the same WiFi network by tapping the TV icon.

What to know about the Red Sox-Yankees game

The playoff-bound Red Sox can clinch the American League East during this week's three-game series in the Bronx. The Yankees, meanwhile, are competing with the A's for the AL's top Wild Card spot.

New York could have a big bat returning to their lineup with Aaron Judge potentially set to resume hitting this week. Judge (chip fracture in his right wrist) was activated off the disabled list last week, but has not yet been cleared to bat. He saw game action for the first time since July 26, playing the field for two innings against the Blue Jays on Friday.

Video: TOR@NYY: Judge, Boone on the outfielder's return

"I would say it's a possibility," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday of Judge's prospects of playing in this series. "That's potentially in the timeline, but I wouldn't say we're there to make that call yet. I'd say around that time, he could be close."

J.A. Happ will start for New York. He's been among the Yankees' most consistent starters since the club acquired him from the Blue Jays in July. Happ is 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA with New York, and the Yankees have won all but one of his eight starts.

Video: NYY@BOS: Eovaldi stymies Yanks in 8 scoreless frames

The Red Sox will counter with Nathan Eovaldi, another midseason acquisition. Eovaldi spent two seasons with the Yankees in 2015-16, and is 10-5 with a 3.86 ERA in his career at Yankee Stadium. He turned in a dominant performance against his former team on Aug. 4, tossing eight scoreless innings and holding New York to just three hits and a walk.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees

Sale goes 3 scoreless; Sox magic number at 2

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are setting themselves up for a clinch party in the house of their rivals.

After being the latest team to outlast Jacob deGrom and score off the Mets' bullpen, the Sox notched a 4-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park that reduced the magic number to two for clinching the American League East title.

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are setting themselves up for a clinch party in the house of their rivals.

After being the latest team to outlast Jacob deGrom and score off the Mets' bullpen, the Sox notched a 4-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park that reduced the magic number to two for clinching the American League East title.

View Full Game Coverage

After a day off on Monday, Boston (103-47) opens a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The math has become quite simple: A win against the Yankees in that three-game series gives the division title to the Red Sox for the third straight year.

Video: NYM@BOS: Cora on Sale's outing, Betts' injury in win

"That would be awesome," said Red Sox ace Chris Sale. "I think we'd all like to do it here, obviously, but we weren't able to do that. Going to one of your biggest rivals in the division or in the game and being able to do it there, it will be fun. We'll enjoy it anywhere we're at."

The game started as a duel between two of the most dominant pitchers in the Majors. Sale's latest "opener" was just what the Red Sox were looking for. He went three shutout innings and allowed one hit while walking none and striking out one. Sale made 42 pitches in the outing, and then got up to his allotted pitch count by throwing more in the bullpen when the fourth inning started. It was a significant step forward after Sale labored through 26 pitches in the first inning last time out and didn't come back out for the second.

"I think at this point, the first one obviously didn't go as planned," said Sale. "This one was a little more smooth. We're doing three innings with an inning in the bullpen. We ramp up the first time, then the next time, and by the third one -- the first postseason start -- we'll be at 100 pitches, which is where you want to be."

Video: NYM@BOS: Wright K's Jackson for his 1st career save

Knuckleballer Steven Wright got his first career save on a day the Sox rested Craig Kimbrel. It was the first time a knuckleballer saved a game for the Red Sox since Tim Wakefield on April 13, 2003.

"This is a guy who went through a lot with his health and obviously starting the season late and he's been able to contribute," said manager Alex Cora. "It was good to see him halfway through the season, be a starter and a reliever and now he's doing a good job for us. Like I've been saying, the key for us is to keep him healthy. We know we have X amount of games. We have to keep him healthy."

If Sale's second start back from the disabled list created excitement for Boston, it was temporarily offset by concern for star right fielder Mookie Betts, who had to leave the game in the top of the sixth inning with soreness in his left side. However, after the game Cora said Betts was fine and should be able to start Tuesday vs. the Yankees.

Video: NYM@BOS: Betts leaves game with left side soreness

The Red Sox had a significant accomplishment in the third when they strung together some hits against deGrom, which hardly ever happens. Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez got it started with back-to-back singles that put runners at the corners with nobody out. Betts got a run home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Brock Holt stepped up next and put a jolt into the crowd with a two-run rocket over the wall in right to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. It was Holt's fifth homer of the season and just the 10th allowed by deGrom.

Video: NYM@BOS: Holt lifts a 2-run dinger to right field

"It was a 1-0 count right there, so I'm looking for something hard and fortunately I got it," said Holt. "You still have to square it up. Fortunately I was able to do that. He's one of the best in the game and he proved it today."

deGrom was nearly untouched the rest of the day, extending his record-setting streak to 27 starts of three earned runs or fewer.

"He's one of the best pitchers we've faced this year. Poise on the mound, presence, fastball, slider, changeup. Controlling the running game," said Cora. "We made up our mind before the game [that] as soon as somebody gets on we're going to put a hit-and-run on. You have to do it. I was asking if any team has three hits in a row against him and nobody answered that question throughout the day, so we made up our mind.

Video: NYM@BOS: Betts opens the scoring with a sacrifice fly

"That's what we do, too, we try to put pressure on aces, because if you just sit back, relax and wait for the home run, it's not going to happen. Honestly, I know voting stuff and all that, but he should win the Cy Young in the National League. No doubt."

It was the first matchup of two starting pitchers with 100 innings and ERAs under 2.00 since Dwight Gooden and John Tudor on Sept. 11, 1985, at Shea Stadium.

Before the game, as they were both getting ready for their starts, Sale made a playful joke to deGrom, who homered against him in college.

"I asked him before the game why he wasn't in the lineup," said Sale. "I need my redemption against him. Yeah, he's the best in the league. This is one of the best lineups in the league. We stuck it out and got one across late."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lin lays base: Once the Red Sox got deGrom out of there, scratching one run across to take the lead didn't feel so hard. Tzu-Wei Lin, who came into the game as a replacement for Betts, started it with a double off the Green Monster. Holt flied out to deep center and Lin scampered to third. Andrew Benintendi did his job, getting the go-ahead run home on a sacrifice fly to center. For Lin, who is hitting .208 in 48 at-bats, it was a satisfying moment to start the rally and score the run that put his team ahead. It was Lin's first career appearance in center field.

"Happy for him, too, that he got a double there and he was able to contribute. It was fun to see. It was good to see him smile," said Cora. "Yeah, we feel he can play center field."

Video: NYM@BOS: Benintendi lifts a go-ahead sac fly in 8th

SOUND SMART
Sale's career-long scoreless streak is now at 32 innings. It is the longest streak in the Majors this season and best for the Red Sox since since Pedro Martinez in 2002.

HE SAID IT
"We've got a chance. We've got three shots there. We win one and we clinch. I think, for me, it's going to be special if it was New York or Baltimore or Tampa -- this is a special group and we have a chance to finish this off. We've been looking at the standings and talking about it and a lot of people have been talking about it for a month and a half. Now we've got it, we're right there. So we'll be ready for Tuesday, and if it happens Tuesday, it's going to be a fun night." -- Cora

UP NEXT
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi takes the ball for the Red Sox when they go for the clinch in the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Eovaldi, a former Yankee, is 10-5 with a 3.85 ERA in his career at the Stadium. The last time the rivals met, the Red Sox swept a four-game series at Fenway Park from Aug. 2-5. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Facebook Watch.

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

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale

30 breakout performers -- 1 for each team

Whether rookies or players who finally turned the corner, a look at the season's breakthrough performances
MLB.com @williamfleitch

Of the hundreds of great Albert Pujols factoids, here's my favorite one: He only made the Cardinals' roster in 2001, his rookie season, because Bobby Bonilla had a Spring Training injury, opening up a roster spot. All Pujols did that year was hit .329/.403/.610, win the National League Rookie of the Year Award and, of course, begin a career that'll finish in Cooperstown. It was his breakthrough year, and it was undeniable.

You can't expect everyone -- or anyone -- to have a breakthrough like Pujols did. But when a breakthrough happens, you can't miss it. Today we take a look at players on each team who, in 2018, had the breakthrough year that augurs great things for the future. Some of them are rookies, some of them just finally turned the corner, but all of them are players we'll be talking about for years to come. And this was the year they got it all started.

Of the hundreds of great Albert Pujols factoids, here's my favorite one: He only made the Cardinals' roster in 2001, his rookie season, because Bobby Bonilla had a Spring Training injury, opening up a roster spot. All Pujols did that year was hit .329/.403/.610, win the National League Rookie of the Year Award and, of course, begin a career that'll finish in Cooperstown. It was his breakthrough year, and it was undeniable.

You can't expect everyone -- or anyone -- to have a breakthrough like Pujols did. But when a breakthrough happens, you can't miss it. Today we take a look at players on each team who, in 2018, had the breakthrough year that augurs great things for the future. Some of them are rookies, some of them just finally turned the corner, but all of them are players we'll be talking about for years to come. And this was the year they got it all started.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez, OF
Key stat: 20 homers

The strikeouts are a little higher than you'd like, but for a guy who didn't make the Opening Day roster, the power has been a revelation for the Blue Jays.

Video: CLE@TOR: Hernandez crushes a 3-run home run to center

Orioles: Tanner Scott
Key stat: 12.9 K/9

It has been the sort of year in Baltimore that a middle reliever with a high strikeout rate is your breakthrough player … but a 23-year-old with that strikeout rate shouldn't be ignored.

Video: BAL@TEX: Scott K's Guzman with the bases loaded

Rays: Blake Snell
Key stat: 2.03 ERA, 19 wins

This was the year the Rays were waiting for from Snell. Maybe he's the only starter they need!

Video: CLE@TB: Snell gets Diaz, takes no-hitter to 7th

Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts
Key stat: .288/.359/.519

Remember, Bogaerts was a below-average hitter last year. With all the homers at Fenway this year, it's easy to miss that he has more than doubled his total from 2017.

Video: HOU@BOS: Bogaerts clubs a solo homer over the Monster

Yankees: Aaron Hicks
Key stat: 4.1 WAR (Baseball Reference)

With all the injury problems the Yankees have, Hicks is proving that he can be a near-star-level player. 

Video: TOR@NYY: Hicks opens the scoring with RBI single

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Jose Ramirez
Key stat: .282/.396/.578

Sure, Ramirez was terrific last year too, but by converting those doubles into homers, he has turned into the AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate no one saw coming.

Video: Ramirez makes history, joins the exclusive 30-30 club

Royals: Brad Keller
Key stat: 3.04 ERA

Keller had a 4.68 ERA in Double-A Jackson last year, but he has been the Royals' best pitcher this year. He just turned 23 years old as well.

Video: CWS@KC: Keller twirls 7 strong innings in win

Tigers: Niko Goodrum
Key stat: 16 homers

Goodrum was 1-for-17 in 2017 with Minnesota and never hit more than 13 homers in eight years in the Minors. He may end up leading the Tigers in homers this year.

Video: DET@CWS: Goodrum clubs a game-tying solo HR in 7th

Twins: Jose Berrios
Key stat: 3.81 ERA, tied for league lead in complete games and shutouts

Berrios will end up adding about 50 innings to his 2017 total, which gets him closer to being the ace the Twins have been waiting on. He's still 24.

Video: MIN@KC: Berrios strikes out 9 over 6 strong innings

White Sox: Carlos Rodon
Key stat: 3.10 ERA

Rodon's strikeout rate has dropped, but everything else has been golden for him this year, and he looks like a rotation mainstay moving forward.

Video: CWS@KC: Rodon lets up 2 runs, K's 5 over 6 innings

AL WEST

Angels: Shohei Ohtani
Key stat: .370 OBP, 3.31 ERA

The injury is (obviously) a bummer, but seriously, once it heals, it looks like Ohtani really might be able to both pitch and hit in this league, and at high levels.

Video: Must C Combo: Trout, Ohtani smash back-to-back homers

Astros: Alex Bregman
Key stats: .294/.401/.551

Bregman has unquestionably been the best position player on a team full of great ones.

Video: Bregman has 30 homer, 50 double, 100 RBI season

Athletics: Matt Chapman
Key stat: 8.1 WAR (Baseball Reference)

We all knew Chapman could play defense like no one else on earth. But he has raised both his OBP and SLG 50 points from his rookie year. Look out.

Video: OAK@TB: Chapman clubs solo homer off Romo 434 feet

Mariners: Edwin Diaz
Key stat: 55 saves

The Mariners have relied on Diaz more than any team has relied on any reliever, and he has responded nearly every time.

Video: SEA@LAA: Diaz induces flyout, notches his 55th save

Rangers: Jose Leclerc
Key stat: 13.8 K/9

Leclerc has always been able to strike guys out, but he dropped his walk rate in half this year.

Video: TEX@SD: Leclerc whiffs Reyes to earn his 11th save

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Key stat: .292/.368/.574

Remember when Acuna was struggling? He looks like he'll be ready to compete for the NL MVP Award as soon as next year. Acuna won't be able to buy his first drink until December.

Video: WSH@ATL: Acuna records 1st career 4-hit game in win

Marlins: Brian Anderson
Key stat: .270/.353/.395

If Anderson's competition consisted of mere mortals instead of some absolute studs this year, he'd be a legitimate NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate.

Video: MIA@NYM: Anderson lines an RBI triple to right field

Mets: Jacob deGrom
Key stat: 1.78 ERA

It's possible that deGrom may be what we remember most from this season.

Video: NYM@BOS: deGrom fans Betts for his 10th K through 5

Nationals: Juan Soto
Key stat: .305/.421/.532

It's easy not to fret about your former superstar teenager possibly leaving when you have another one that just shows up on your roster.

Video: WSH@ATL: Soto knocks in Harper on 9th inning single

Phillies: Aaron Nola
Key stat: 16-5, 2.42 ERA

The Phillies have been excited about Nola for a while. But even they didn't see this coming.

Video: WSH@PHI: Nola K's Rendon to end the frame

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Christian Yelich
Key stat: .313/.381/.556

Yelich is not only having a better year than Marcell Ozuna, he's having a better year than Giancarlo Stanton.

Video: PIT@MIL: Yelich crushes his 30th homer of the season

Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
2.86 ERA

The Cards have had a few of these guys -- from Miles Mikolas to Harrison Bader to Yairo Munoz -- but we'll go with the guy who would start the NL Wild Card Game.

Video: LAD@STL: Flaherty whiffs 8 Dodgers, allows just 1 run

Cubs: Javier Baez
Key stat: .294/.328/.563

The batting average and on-base percentage are about what you'd expect from Baez, but that slugging leads the NL.

Video: Must C Combo: Baez homers, executes key bunt in win

Pirates: Trevor Williams
Key stat: 1.19 second-half ERA

If the real Williams is anything close to this, with Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer, the Pirates have quite a threesome in the rotation moving forward.

Video: PIT@MIL: Williams tosses 6 scoreless vs. Brewers

Reds: Eugenio Suarez
Key stat: 101 RBIs

No Red has led the NL in RBIs since Dave Parker in 1985, and Suarez is right there with Trevor Story and Baez for the top spot.

Video: LAD@CIN: Suarez belts a solo home run to right

NL WEST

D-backs: Patrick Corbin
Key stat: 11-5, 3.05 ERA

The pending free agent has picked an excellent year to have his career season.

Video: ARI@COL: Corbin gets Blackmon swinging

Dodgers: Max Muncy
Key stat: .258/.389/.577

Muncy has cooled down a little bit in the second half, but of all the players to lead the Dodgers in homers this year, this guy would have been pretty far down everybody's list in the preseason.

Video: NYM@LAD: Muncy hits towering 2-run homer to center

Giants: Dereck Rodriguez
Key stat: 2.30 ERA

The Giants are almost too old to have too many breakthrough players, but Rodriguez has actually been the team's leader in WAR (Baseball Reference) this year.

Video: COL@SF: Rodriguez K's 5 over 6 strong frames vs. Rox

Padres: Franmil Reyes
Key stat: .848 OPS

The numbers are better than many realize, but the real joy of Reyes is bringing something unique and exciting to a franchise that could use it.

Video: SD@ARI: Reyes smashes a 3-run homer to right-center

Rockies: Kyle Freeland
Key stat: 15-7, 2.96 ERA

According to Baseball Reference WAR, Freeland is having the second-best season by a Rockies pitcher in franchise history … and he's got a real chance to chase down 2010 Ubaldo Jimenez by season's end.

Video: ARI@COL: Freeland K's Jay, the side in the 3rd

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Betts should be OK after departing early

Red Sox manager Cora says star right fielder likely to DH Tuesday in NYC
MLB.com

BOSTON -- Star right fielder Mookie Betts gave the Red Sox a brief scare when he had to leave Sunday's 4-3 win over the Mets with soreness in his left side.

There was relief after the game, though, when both Betts and manager Alex Cora said that the leadoff man and MVP candidate should be back in the lineup when the Red Sox next play on Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- Star right fielder Mookie Betts gave the Red Sox a brief scare when he had to leave Sunday's 4-3 win over the Mets with soreness in his left side.

There was relief after the game, though, when both Betts and manager Alex Cora said that the leadoff man and MVP candidate should be back in the lineup when the Red Sox next play on Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

With a win in that game, the 103-47 Red Sox would clinch the American League East title.

Video: NYM@BOS: Betts leaves game with left side soreness

"Couple days," said Betts. "Was able to get some stretching, get some work in. Kind of flared back up on the second throw. Like I said, it'll be fine and I'll be ready to play Tuesday."

Cora said that Betts will likely DH on Tuesday, with J.D. Martinez playing right field.

Prior to coming out of the game, Betts had just made back-to-back throws to home plate, the latter of which was a sacrifice fly by Wilmer Flores.

Video: NYM@BOS: Flores has sac fly confirmed after review

Just after the Red Sox had called for a review on that play, Cora noticed Betts on the ground trying to stretch out his left side.

Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. signaled to the dugout that something was wrong with Betts. Cora then ran out to the field with assistant trainer Masai Takahashi, and Betts ran back to the dugout shortly thereafter.

Bradley moved from center to right, and Tzu-Wei Lin went out to center and took the spot of Betts at the top of the order.

Betts was on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain from May 29-June 10.

"This isn't the same," said Betts. "You know, I was just coming out of it for precautionary [reasons], just to make sure it didn't get any worse. But it checked out to be just fine."

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

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

Cora using final two weeks to rest key players

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora is a big believer in rest as it is. There will never be any Cal Ripken streaks on a team he manages. But thanks to the cushion his team has built, Cora can be even more liberal than usual with keeping his regulars off their feet the final two weeks of the regular season.

You saw an example of that on Sunday, when Cora posted a lineup against Mets ace Jacob deGrom that didn't include his two biggest middle-of-the-order bats in J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.

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BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora is a big believer in rest as it is. There will never be any Cal Ripken streaks on a team he manages. But thanks to the cushion his team has built, Cora can be even more liberal than usual with keeping his regulars off their feet the final two weeks of the regular season.

You saw an example of that on Sunday, when Cora posted a lineup against Mets ace Jacob deGrom that didn't include his two biggest middle-of-the-order bats in J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.

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That was a combined 216 RBIs on the bench against perhaps the best pitcher in the National League.

Cora said the decision had little to do with deGrom and much more to do with Monday being an off-day for the Red Sox.

"Just taking advantage of two days [in a row]," Cora said. "We'll start seeing this probably a little bit more throughout the week. Obviously, we haven't finished our job. We still have some games to play, but we'll take advantage of the schedule. Keep them fresh and off their feet."

The Red Sox had a magic number of four entering play on Sunday, meaning they could clinch the division as soon as the upcoming three-game series at Yankee Stadium that starts Tuesday. Cora was asked if he felt he owed it to the "integrity of the game" to play his full lineup against teams that are still battling for a playoff spot or seeding, which includes the Yankees.

"No, I owe it to our team. Whatever we have to do to be close to 100 percent -- wherever we go, that's what I have to do," Cora said. "You guys know how I feel when our regulars don't play. It's still a good lineup, still scoring a lot of runs. We'll match up, I think [the Yankees] are going lefty, righty, righty, if I'm not mistaken. We'll go from there. We'll still play to win, but if we have to rest some guys in the bullpen, we will, and we're going to take care of our starters."

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

Boston Red Sox

Holt comes up clutch off bench as Red Sox roll

Savvy manager decisions help Boston drop magic number to 4
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been careful not to divulge his postseason strategies -- be they roster formations or in-game alignments -- until his team officially clinches the American League East.

But as his 102-47 team inched closer to that goal (the magic number is four) on Saturday with a 5-3 victory over the Mets at Fenway Park, Cora offered hints of the way he will deploy his personnel in October.

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BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been careful not to divulge his postseason strategies -- be they roster formations or in-game alignments -- until his team officially clinches the American League East.

But as his 102-47 team inched closer to that goal (the magic number is four) on Saturday with a 5-3 victory over the Mets at Fenway Park, Cora offered hints of the way he will deploy his personnel in October.

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When Mets manager Mickey Callaway seemed to back the Red Sox into a corner by issuing an intentional walk to Rafael Devers that sent the light-hitting Sandy Leon (.182 average) to the plate with two outs during the game-turning rally in the fifth, Cora didn't flinch.

He called on pinch-hitter Brock Holt, who snapped a tie with a two-run double high off the Green Monster in left-center on a first-pitch fastball (96.9 mph) by Drew Smith.

"The way we've been playing the game, we're going to be aggressive early in the game, regardless," said Cora. "We felt, they had one more lefty in the bullpen, [Jerry] Blevins, although he's kind of a reverse split guy. It was a good matchup for us, and Brock has been swinging the bat well off the bench, plus we had Mitch [Moreland] for later so we took a chance."

It was the latest clutch hit off the bench for Holt, who is 5-for-13 as a pinch-hitter. Overall as a sub this season, Holt is 10-for-21 with a 1.500 OPS. Cora has talked about the possibility of going with three catchers in the playoffs, which would allow him to use Leon's strong defense and game-calling in the early-to-mid innings and then be aggressive with pinch-hitting opportunities for Holt and others.

Video: NYM@BOS: Bogaerts puts Red Sox ahead with RBI single

"Just stay ready," said Holt. "They do a good job of letting us know when we're hitting. It's just a matter of staying ready and looking for a good pitch to hit."

After winning pitcher Rick Porcello (17-7) departed following his five innings, Cora gave some possible previews of how he could deploy his much-maligned bullpen. Bobby Poyner made a strong case to be the lefty specialist, firing a shutdown sixth inning that required just 12 pitches.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright is another emerging candidate to pitch in big situations, and he once again got out of his own jam. After walking the first two batters in the seventh, Wright got the next three.

Video: Wright works out of trouble

Ryan Brasier, an under-the-radar find who pitched in Japan last year, was again a force in the eighth, setting down all three batters he faced.

Craig Kimbrel -- seemingly Boston's one reliever who has a completely defined role -- shut down the Mets in the ninth for save No. 41.

Video: NYM@BOS: Kimbrel retires Nimmo for the save

"We've been talking a lot about the bullpen, but I'm comfortable," said Cora. "I know where we're going. I know where we're at. When we get healthy, hopefully we can finish the job and we can have options. I'm good with it."

Porcello had a pretty good day. He made one costly pitch in the top of the fourth, a 1-2 sinker that Brandon Nimmo hammered to right-center for a three-run homer to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The Red Sox answered with a four-run surge in the bottom of the fifth that started with two outs and nobody on base. After singles by Steve Pearce and Ian Kinsler, Jackie Bradley Jr. lifted one to deep left that looked like it just cleared the Green Monster for a three-run homer. As Bradley ran around the bases, Boston thought it had a 4-3 lead.

But after a crew chief review, it was overturned, and Bradley had a two-run double for a tie game.

Video: NYM@BOS: Bradley Jr.'s homer turned to a double

"What's the old saying? Everything happens for a reason? I didn't hit the homer, got a double," said Bradley. "They probably wouldn't have intentionally walked Raffy, and Brock Holt wouldn't have pinch-hit and hit a double, scored two runs. We got an extra run out of it, so we won."

These days, the Red Sox always seem to win when they go to Holt.

He now has three go-ahead RBIs as a pinch-hitter, tying him for the single-season club record with Rick Miller (1984) and Mike Stanley (1997).

"He's our secret weapon," said Porcello. "Pinch-hitter, he goes up there and is aggressive, and he's done a great job. He's made a huge impact coming off the bench. There have been a handful of games that we wouldn't have won without him coming off the bench so it's been awesome."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
While the doubles by Bradley and Holt got most of the attention, those opportunities were created by Pearce and Kinsler, who belted back-to-back, two-out singles to start the rally. The two in-season additions by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski have given the Red Sox more depth offensively.

SOUND SMART
This game could serve as a momentum-builder for the bullpen. The four scoreless innings marked just the third game in the last four seasons the Red Sox have had four-plus scoreless relief innings in a game.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The sixth inning featured highlight-reel plays by both second basemen. In the top of the inning, Kinsler made a brilliant play from the outfield grass, ranging toward the line and making a strong throw to nail Michael Conforto.

Video: NYM@BOS: Kinsler makes a running play to nab Conforto

And in the bottom of the sixth, when J.D. Martinez flared one to the right side, he seemed sure to have a hit. But Jeff McNeil made a sensational dive and snared the soft liner.

Video: NYM@BOS: McNeil makes a spectacular diving catch

UP NEXT
In a marquee pitching matchup of top Cy Young Award candidates, Chris Sale (12-4, 1.96 ERA) goes against Jacob deGrom (8-9, 1.71 ERA) in the finale of this three-game series at Fenway Park. For Sale, who is making his second start since coming back from the disabled list, this will be more of an "opener." He should pitch three to four innings. deGrom has allowed three runs or less in his last 26 starts, which is an MLB record. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

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

Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr.

J.D. making a convincing case to be AL MVP

Slugger helps widen gap between Red Sox and Yankees
MLB.com @MikeLupica

After 148 games last season, the Red Sox had a record of 85-63 -- and led the Yankees by three games in the American League East. A year later, after the same number of games, the Red Sox enter Saturday's games with a record of 101-47, and stand 9 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees. There was one significant addition to the team between then and now: J.D. Martinez. He is not only the Most Valuable Player in the AL this season, he is the MVP of the entire sport.

I was at Fenway a few weeks ago for an afternoon game against the Indians, won by the Red Sox, 7-0. Martinez was intentionally walked that day in the middle of a six-run fifth inning, and later knocked in a run with a single. So J.D. went 1-for-3, with a run scored, and a run batted in: A quiet day at the office.

After 148 games last season, the Red Sox had a record of 85-63 -- and led the Yankees by three games in the American League East. A year later, after the same number of games, the Red Sox enter Saturday's games with a record of 101-47, and stand 9 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees. There was one significant addition to the team between then and now: J.D. Martinez. He is not only the Most Valuable Player in the AL this season, he is the MVP of the entire sport.

I was at Fenway a few weeks ago for an afternoon game against the Indians, won by the Red Sox, 7-0. Martinez was intentionally walked that day in the middle of a six-run fifth inning, and later knocked in a run with a single. So J.D. went 1-for-3, with a run scored, and a run batted in: A quiet day at the office.

In the NESN booth that afternoon, during an Indians pitching change, analyst Dennis Eckersley grinned, scratched his head and said, "Gee, what's changed in this batting order this season? Help me out here."

Martinez has changed everything for Boston's offense, and in the process become a right-handed version of David Ortiz. Once, a long time ago, the Twins didn't want Ortiz anymore. He ended up with the Red Sox and only ended up changing their history and baseball history once he got to Fenway. Nobody knew a whole lot about Ortiz when he first arrived in Boston. Everybody knew what Martinez could do when the Red Sox signed him this past February because of all the home runs he hit over the past few seasons with the Tigers and the D-backs, including 45 in just 119 games in 2017 playing for both of those teams.

But you can never tell the story of what Martinez has done this season -- and what he has meant to this Red Sox team -- without placing it in this context: He was designated for assignment 4 1/2 years ago by the Astros, after just 18 Spring Training at-bats.

There are other fine MVP candidates in the AL this season -- including one at the top of the Red Sox's order, right fielder Mookie Betts, a wonderful all-around player. Orioles manager Buck Showalter told me this about just his outfield play earlier this season: "He is the best right fielder I've ever seen with my own eyes." You have to factor in defense when evaluating how much Betts means to his team, especially playing that position in Fenway.

Mookie has played 117 games this season entering Saturday, and owns a .339 average with 117 runs scored, 29 home runs, a .431 on-base percentage and a .624 slugging percentage (1.055 OPS). He is half of a fun, fair debate in Boston about who is more valuable to the Sox this season, him or J.D.

Video: BOS@CWS: Martinez belts a 3-run homer to pad the lead

J.D. is valuable, even playing the outfield as little as he has so far. Of all the other MVP candidates, his stat line gives off the biggest beam of light:

• .331 batting average
• 41 home runs
• 122 RBIs
• 106 runs scored
• 1.035 OPS (.402 on-base percentage / .633 slugging percentage)

Martinez has not only made those hitting ahead of him in the order better, he has made everybody better. Last season, the Red Sox ranked fourth from the bottom of baseball in home runs (168). This season, with 14 games left to play, they are tied for ninth (188). Showalter once described Ortiz's spot in the Red Sox's order this way: "Danger." The same can be said for Martinez.

Mike Trout is still the best all-around player in baseball, one of the all-time greats. Betts has been Boston's Trout this season, because of his range of skills, the way he is such a streak of light on the field. The Astros' Alex Bregman, also discussed as an AL MVP candidate, is one of my favorite players -- a dirty-uniform guy, who has become a complete star. Bregman has 50 doubles this season, a .295 average, 30 homers and 100 RBI and .398/.553/.950 line for on-base, slugging and OPS. Because of the injuries the defending World Series champs have had -- and the way Bregman has carried an offense he wasn't supposed to -- you can easily make the case that without him, the Astros would be chasing the A's in the AL West.

By the way, despite the fact his average is just .251 (I know, I know, we're not supposed to talk about batting averages the way we used to, the way we're not supposed to think starting pitchers matter the way they once did), the A's Khris Davis absolutely belongs in this conversation, too. He hit another homer on Friday night to win a big game against the Rays and keep his team 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the top spot in the AL Wild Card race, as well as just 2 1/2 games behind the Astros in the AL West. Davis, the best home run hitter in baseball since 2016, now has 42 homers this year and 111 RBIs.

Davis is not the MVP. Neither is Mookie, nor Bregman, nor Trout. They don't call it the Best All-Around Player Award. They still call it Most Valuable. J.D. wins that distinction, hands down. From DFA to MVP in four years. His backstory doesn't make him the MVP, it just makes the whole tale better. It is the story of the year in baseball.

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Dalbec nabs dual Minors honors from Red Sox

Boston's No. 6 prospect named offensive and defensive Player of Year
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Standing on the same field where he hopes to take frequent aim at the Green Monster at some point in the near future, Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec got a rare double honor prior to Saturday's matchup with the Mets when he was named the organization's Minor Leaguer of the Year for offense and defense.

This is the first time since the Red Sox started giving out both awards in 2005 that one player has won both.

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BOSTON -- Standing on the same field where he hopes to take frequent aim at the Green Monster at some point in the near future, Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec got a rare double honor prior to Saturday's matchup with the Mets when he was named the organization's Minor Leaguer of the Year for offense and defense.

This is the first time since the Red Sox started giving out both awards in 2005 that one player has won both.

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"I think it took a special performance on both sides of the ball," said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. "From an evaluative standpoint, from a numbers standpoint, he stood out in both areas pretty significantly."

In 129 games in the Minors this season, including 29 at Double-A Portland, the 23-year-old third baseman belted 32 homers and had 109 RBIs in 455 at-bats.

Dalbec takes particular pride in being recognized for his defense.

"I really worked hard on my defense in the offseason and in Spring Training, and it's something I take a lot of pride in. It feels very good to be acknowledged for that," said Dalbec.

Dalbec, a right-handed hitter, is ranked sixth among Red Sox prospects by MLB Pipeline. The fourth-round pick out of Arizona in 2016 has flourished throughout his three seasons in Boston's farm system.

The breakthrough season Dalbec just had could get him an invitation to Spring Training in 2019.

"I hope so, but it's not in my control so I'm not going to stress about it or anything," said Dalbec. "I'm just going to continue to work hard and get better every day."

The Sox also recognized the following awards winners in Saturday's ceremony: RHP Denyi Reyes, Pitcher of the Year; INF/OF Kervin Suarez, Baserunner of the Year; OF Gilberto Jimenez, Latin Program Player of the Year; RHP Miguel Suero, Latin Program Pitcher of the Year.

Additionally, reliever Ryan Brasier received the Lou Gorman Award, which is given annually to the Minor League player who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the Major League team.

Brasier, who pitched for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan last season, has been one of the top setup relievers for the Red Sox down the stretch.

"We're very proud of him," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We're very happy we have him, and he's a testament to player operations. Somebody answered that email [that Brasier sent to all teams]. Somebody flew over there and watched him, and they decided to sign him and we're very happy he's here with us."

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

Boston Red Sox

J.D. vying for first global Triple Crown since '56

Boston slugger could become first to lead both leagues in BA, HR and RBIs since Mantle
MLB.com

In this final month of the regular season, J.D. Martinez has a shot to make history.

The Red Sox slugger entered September in the top two in the Major Leagues in batting average, home runs and RBIs, putting him in position to challenge for a "true" Triple Crown, which would encompass all of MLB. The last player to lead the Majors in all three categories in the same season was Mickey Mantle, who batted .353 with 52 homers and 130 RBIs for the Yankees in 1956.

In this final month of the regular season, J.D. Martinez has a shot to make history.

The Red Sox slugger entered September in the top two in the Major Leagues in batting average, home runs and RBIs, putting him in position to challenge for a "true" Triple Crown, which would encompass all of MLB. The last player to lead the Majors in all three categories in the same season was Mickey Mantle, who batted .353 with 52 homers and 130 RBIs for the Yankees in 1956.

In fact, Martinez could become only the sixth player since the American League began play in 1901 to snag an MLB Triple Crown. It's a short list of baseball legends, featuring Hall of Famers Mantle, Ted Williams (1942), Lou Gehrig ('34), Rogers Hornsby ('25), and Ty Cobb ('09).

Even an AL or NL Triple Crown is rare. A player has led his league in average, homers and RBIs just 16 times, including 12 since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920.

• Every Triple Crown winner in MLB history

Before the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera broke a 45-year drought in 2012, there hadn't been a Triple Crown winner since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski pulled off the feat for the 1967 Red Sox. Now, more than a half-century later, another Boston player is trying to join this exclusive club.

Martinez seemed like an ideal match for the Red Sox from the time free agency opened last November, but it wasn't until late February that the two sides officially agreed to a five-year deal. So far, so good.

If he is able to win the Triple Crown, he'll probably need some help from teammate Mookie Betts, who currently holds a nine-point lead in batting average (.337 to .328). And while that might seem like a big gap to make up with less than three weeks left in the season, it's not insurmountable. Consider this hypothetical:

If we assume that over the final 13 games of the season, both Betts and Martinez average roughly four at-bats per game, that gives them 48 more at-bats apiece. If Betts goes 13-for-48 (a .271 average) in that span, his season mark would drop to .331, which means Martinez would need to go 18-for-48 (.375) to get to .332 on the year. Bottom line: Over the course of 48 at-bats for these two players, there are a variety of scenarios in which Martinez can pass Betts.

Here is a day-by-day look at Martinez's Triple Crown chase, going back to Sept. 1. For each Triple Crown category, Martinez's MLB rank is listed:

Sept. 17 (Red Sox off-day)
J.D.'s line:
Did not play
Stats: .328 (2nd), 41 HRs (2nd), 122 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .337
HR leader: Khris Davis, 43
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 115

Sept. 16 vs. NYM
J.D.'s line:
Did not play
Stats: .328 (2nd), 41 HRs (2nd), 122 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .337
HR leader: Khris Davis, 43
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 115

Sept. 15 vs. NYM
J.D.'s line:
0-for-5, no RBIs
Martinez had his worst game in a while, striking out three times for the first time since Aug. 5 and leaving six runners on base. But the Red Sox still beat the Mets, 5-3.
Stats: .328 (2nd), 41 HRs (2nd), 122 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .338
HR leader: Khris Davis, 42
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 111

Sept. 14 vs. NYM
J.D.'s line:
1-for-2, BB, no RBIs
Martinez singled but didn't have any RBI opportunities as Noah Syndergaard pitched seven shutout innings as the Red Sox offense fell quiet in an 8-0 loss.
Stats: .331 (2nd), 41 HRs (2nd), 122 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .339
HR leader: Khris Davis, 42
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 111

Sept. 13 vs. TOR
J.D.'s line:
2-for-4, HR, RBI
Martinez launched his 41st home run of the season in Boston's 4-3 victory over Toronto at Fenway Park, a solo shot in the second inning.
Stats: .330 (2nd), 41 HRs (T-1st), 122 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .340
HR leader: Martinez; Khris Davis
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 110

Sept. 12 vs. TOR
J.D.'s line:
0-for-3, BB, no RBIs
Martinez was hitless and didn't add to his RBI total, but the Red Sox won their 100th game of the season in a 1-0 victory at Fenway Park.
Stats: .329 (2nd), 40 HRs (2nd), 121 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .340
HR leader: Khris Davis, 41
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 110

Sept. 11 vs. TOR
J.D.'s line:
1-for-4, no HRs or RBIs
Martinez managed just a single in the eighth inning, but the Red Sox came from behind to beat the Jays, 7-2, and clinched a postseason berth for the third consecutive season.
Stats: .331 (2nd), 40 HRs (2nd), 121 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .340
HR leader: Khris Davis, 41
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 109

Sept. 10 (Red Sox off-day)
J.D.'s line: 
Did not play
Stats: .331 (2nd), 40 HRs (2nd), 121 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .342
HR leader: Khris Davis, 41
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 108

Sept. 9 vs. HOU
J.D.'s line:
1-for-4, HR, 4 RBIs
Martinez scored Betts with a sac fly in the third, then he crushed a three-run shot in the fifth for his first home run of the month.
Stats: .331 (2nd), 40 HRs (2nd), 121 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .342
HR leader: Khris Davis, 41
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 108

Sept. 8 vs. HOU
J.D.'s line:
0-for-5, no RBIs
Stats: .332 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 117 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .341
HR leader: Khris Davis, 41
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 108

Sept. 7 vs. HOU
J.D.'s line: 
1-for-4, no HRs, 2 RBIs
Stats: .335 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 117 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .339
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 106

Sept. 6 (Red Sox off-day)
J.D.'s line: 
Did not play
Stats: .335 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 115 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .335
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 106

Sept. 5 at ATL
J.D.'s line: Did not play
With no DH and the team having a day off on Sept. 6, Martinez was out of the lineup and essentially given two days off.
Stats: .335 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 115 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .335
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 106

Sept. 4 at ATL
J.D.'s line: 1-for-4, no HRs or RBIs
Martinez's hit came with a man in scoring position, but Rick Porcello, an AL pitcher not used to running the bases, only advanced to third. That deprived Martinez of a potential RBI.
Stats: .335 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 115 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .336
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 106

Sept. 3 at ATL
J.D.'s line: 1-for-4, no HRs or RBIs
It was a quiet game for Martinez. His only RBI chance came in the top of the ninth, when he batted with men on second and third and no one out, but he was issued an intentional walk before being double-switched out for closer Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the ninth.
Stats: .336 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 115 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .338
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 106

Sept. 2 at CWS
J.D.'s line: 2-for-3, no HRs or RBIs
Martinez walked and singled twice, getting a break when he had a blooper (64.1 mph exit velocity) drop in shallow right field in the ninth inning. On the other hand, Martinez also crushed a deep fly ball to center field in the third (98.5 mph exit velocity) that Chicago's Adam Engel hauled in on the warning track.
Stats: .337 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 115 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .340
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 105

Sept. 1 at CWS
J.D.'s line: 2-for-4, no HRs, 1 RBI
Martinez smacked a pair of ground-ball singles back up the middle, the latter bringing home a run in the seventh inning.
Stats: .335 (2nd), 39 HRs (2nd), 115 RBIs (1st)
AVG leader: Mookie Betts, .340
HR leader: Khris Davis, 40
RBI leader: Martinez; K. Davis next with 105

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Sox relievers see mixed results in loss to Mets

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Bullpen auditions for the postseason are in session for the Red Sox. On Friday night at Fenway Park, things went much better for Brian Johnson and Drew Pomeranz than they did for Tyler Thornburg.

In an 8-0 loss to the Mets, Johnson was perhaps the lone bright spot. The lefty swingman was sharp in his 4 2/3 relief innings, allowing two hits and a run while walking one and striking out four.

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BOSTON -- Bullpen auditions for the postseason are in session for the Red Sox. On Friday night at Fenway Park, things went much better for Brian Johnson and Drew Pomeranz than they did for Tyler Thornburg.

In an 8-0 loss to the Mets, Johnson was perhaps the lone bright spot. The lefty swingman was sharp in his 4 2/3 relief innings, allowing two hits and a run while walking one and striking out four.

View Full Game Coverage

Rats! Mets, Red Sox aren't alone in dugouts

"Felt good," Johnson said. "I was able to work on four pitches, and any time I'm able to do that, it allows me to be successful."

Video: NYM@BOS: Johnson escapes bases-loaded jam unscathed

When Johnson was finished for the night, Red Sox manager Alex Cora summoned Thornburg, who has been spotty since returning from his season-and-a-half on the disabled list.

Thornburg gave up long, loud homers to Austin Jackson and Amed Rosario in the eighth as the Mets handed the Red Sox a rare home blowout.

"Location, actually," Cora said. "That was a changeup that was supposed to be down in the zone to Jackson and he left it up in the zone, and then Rosario put a good swing, but it was more about location than anything else. [Catcher Blake Swihart] felt the fastball had some life, actually, but location-wise, it wasn't his best night."

Video: NYM@BOS: Rosario belts a solo home run in the 8th

Pomeranz, who has had a tough year as a starter and reliever, completed one of his sharper appearances of the season. The lefty struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, permitting one hit.

"It looked like his arm was quicker, a lot quicker," Cora said. "He threw that fastball up and in to strike a righty out, which was a good pitch. The breaking ball was OK. He did a good job."

For the first time, Fenway Park fans got to see Noah Syndergaard pitch. The man known as "Thor" was at his best, firing seven dazzling innings in which he held the high-powered Red Sox to three hits and no runs while striking out six and walking three.

"He showed why he's one of the best," Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts said.

Video: NYM@BOS: Cora on shutout loss to Mets

The Red Sox were supposed to start Hector Velazquez, but he was scratched a few hours before the game due to illness. That gave William Cuevas a chance to make his first Major League start, though it was more of an opener. Cuevas went two-plus innings and gave up two runs.

Things deteriorated when Robby Scott came in. The lefty quickly served up a three-run rocket to Jay Bruce. Scott lasted just one-third of an inning and walked two.

Video: NYM@BOS: Bruce clobbers a 3-run home run to right

With the defeat, the 101-47 Red Sox saw their lead over the Yankees reduced to 9 1/2 games in the American League East. The magic number for clinching the division remains at six.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the fifth with the Red Sox down, 5-0, Swihart drew a two-out walk to bring the dangerous Betts to the plate. Betts sent a fly ball to right, but Brandon Nimmo made an impressive diving catch to get Syndergaard out of the inning.

Video: NYM@BOS: Nimmo lays out to make great diving catch

SOUND SMART
The Red Sox continue to be strong in the running game. They stole three bases in the third inning and are 10-for-10 in their last four games.

Video: NYM@BOS: Red Sox execute double steal in 3rd

UP NEXT
Right-hander Rick Porcello (16-7, 4.27 ERA) gets the ball for the Red Sox in Saturday's middle game of this three-game series against the Mets. Porcello has faced the Mets twice in his career, the most recent of which was a win in New York on Aug. 25, 2013, when he gave up three runs over seven innings. The Mets counter with righty Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.62 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.

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

Boston Red Sox, William Cuevas, Brian Johnson, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Thornburg