BOSTON (AP) — Mookie Betts doesn’t seem to be badly hurt, so the Red Sox can focus on clinching the AL East at Yankee Stadium for the second time in three seasons.
Betts gave Boston a scare when he injured his left side making two throws to home plate during a 4-3 win over the New York Mets on Sunday that cut Boston’s magic number to two for a third straight division title.
“It kind of flared back up on the second throw. It’ll be fine. I’ll be ready to play Tuesday,” Betts said. “I was just coming out for precautionary (reasons) just to make sure it didn’t get worse. Everything checked out fine and I’ll be ready to go.”
Boston has an 11½-game lead over the second-place Yankees and would clinch with one win during a three-game series that opens Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve been looking at the standings and a lot of people have been talking about it for a month-and-a-half,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Now, it’s right there. If it happens Tuesday, it’s going to be a fun night.”
Betts, hitting .337 with 29 homers and 72 RBIs, caught a fly ball from Jeff McNeil in the sixth inning and threw home as Austin Jackson held at third. Wilmer Flores followed with another drive to right, and Betts unsuccessfully threw home as Jackson scored on the sacrifice fly.
Betts went down to one knee, and the three-time All-Star was stretching his left side and back as a team athletic trainer and Cora jogged to the outfield. Betts walked off slowly and was replaced. Cora said Betts will get treatment Monday.
Andrew Benintendi hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning off Seth Lugo (3-4) after a matchup of Sale and New York’s Jacob deGrom, both Cy Young Award candidates. Brandon Workman (5-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Steven Wright got three outs for his first big league save.
Sale allowed one hit in three scoreless innings, lowering his AL-best ERA to 1.92 and extending his scoreless streak to 32, the longest in the major leagues this season. He made his second start after a pair of trips to the disabled list caused by mild left shoulder inflammation limited him to one appearance nearly six weeks.
“I feel a 100 percent and wouldn’t be going out there if I wasn’t,” Sale said.
DeGrom gave up three runs and five hits over seven innings with 12 strikeouts and one walk, his major league-leading ERA rising slightly to 1.78. He has gone a major league record 27 straight starts holding opponent to three or fewer runs, according the Elias Sports Bureau.
Boston took a 3-0 lead in the third on Betts’ sacrifice fly and Brock Holt’s two-run homer. New York closed to 3-2 in the sixth on Flores’ sacrifice fly and a double by Michael Conforto that bounced off the glove of Tzu-Wei Lin, who replaced Betts.
“I knew I had good stuff,” deGrom said. “I made a couple mistakes that inning, just had to turn the page and go out there and try to keep us in the game. We tied it up and we were in the game the whole way.”
Rosario hit a tying single in the seventh against Joe Kelly.
Sale and deGrom became the first starting pitchers to face each other with sub-2.00 ERAs and at least 100 innings since the Mets’ Dwight Gooden (1.74) and the St. Louis Cardinals’ John Tudor (1.95) on Sept. 11, 1985, according Elias.
IF THEY VOTED
Cora was impressed with deGrom.
“I know voting is tough and all in that,” he said. “He should win the Cy Young in the National League.”
Sale said: “He’s the best in the league. You saw it today.”
AGAINST THE BEST
Boston is 4-0 in games started against NL pitchers entering with ERAs among the league’s top four, also winning in starts by Washington’s Max Scherzer, Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola and Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz.
Mets: Jay Bruce was the DH for the second straight day. Callaway said it was a good way to get him off his feet during an injury-plagued season in which Bruce has been limited to 82 games.
Red Sox: Cora rested both DH/OF J.D. Martinez and SS Xander Bogaerts. He said that INF Eduardo Nunez (right knee soreness) likely will be back in the starting lineup Tuesday.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.23 ERA) is set to start Monday’s opener of a three-game series in Philadelphia. RHP Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.66) is slated to pitch for the Phillies.
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-7, 4.22) is scheduled to start against his former team on Tuesday. LHP J.A. Happ (16-6, 3.75) is slated for New York.
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