NEW YORK — The final act in the dreadful season of the Boston Red Sox is being played at Yankee Stadium. And the first scene of the last series was another ugly lowlight in a year filled with them.
Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira homered in a nine-run second inning Monday night, leading the New York Yankees to a 10-2 rout of the Red Sox and Clay Buchholz.
While the Yankees opened a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East with two games to play, Boston clinched at least a share of last place in the division. The Red Sox, two games behind fourth-place Toronto with two to play, hadn’t finished in the cellar since 1992.
“The season as a whole, everybody’s got to learn from it. I don’t think anybody in this clubhouse is happy about the position we’re in right now,” Buchholz said. “But we’ve got a lot of key guys who have been hurt throughout the season for a period of time and that takes its toll. It hasn’t been the standard here that everybody expects of us. Like I say, we’ve got to learn from it and hope it leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.”
Starting what may be its final series under first-year manager Bobby Valentine, Boston has lost six in a row and 10 of 11, reaching 91 defeats for the first time since dropping 100 games in 1965. In what resembled a spring training lineup, the Red Sox started just two regular position players, Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Six of the starters had uniform Nos. 50 or higher.
“You play the cards that you have,” Valentine said. “That’s all we have right now.”
Dustin Pedroia was out because of an injured finger, and Jacoby Ellsbury sat against left-hander CC Sabathia after returning from an injury last weekend.
Buchholz (11-8) was roughed up for eight runs and six hits — three of them homers — in 1 2-3 innings. He dropped to 0-5 with a 5.62 ERA in his last eight starts.
“I felt as good today as I’ve felt the second half of the season. The ball was coming out fine,” he said. “It’s tough whenever you pitch in the middle of the plate and everyone gets hit. That’s what this team is known for. They hit mistakes and they got them out.”
The eight earned runs off Buchholz were a career high.
“Well, they didn’t miss any of his mistakes,” Valentine said. “He’s out there giving it everything he had. It’s just a tough lineup to make some mistakes to. They were able to hit him hard.”
Daniel Nava homered against Sabathia (15-6) leading off the fourth, and Saltalamacchia hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
New York (93-67), which clinched its 17th playoff berth in 18 years on Sunday, would ensure its 13th division title in 17 years by sweeping the three-game series against the Red Sox. Baltimore (92-68) lost 5-3 at Tampa Bay and dropped into second place.
“There’s a lot of teams that would love to be in our position right now,” Teixeira said. “You can count all of the things that have gone wrong but, hey, we’re right here where we want to be. And if we keep winning, we’ll be division champions and have a chance to make a run in the playoffs.”
New York tied its record for home runs in an inning, achieving the feat for the third time. Sabathia (15-6), with perhaps his best changeup of the year, allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and a walk. Following a stretch of four shaky outings, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last three.
“I’m just trying to relax and not overthrow,” he said.
NOTES: Valentine said Pedroia is uncertain for Tuesday. “He couldn’t swing before the game. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. No one goes to the post like Dustin. If he’s capable of playing, he’ll be in there tomorrow.” … Ellsbury was 1 for 8 on Saturday and Sunday after being sidelined since Sept. 20 with an unspecified injury. He is 6 for 28 (.214) against Sabathia. “He’ll play the next two days, hopefully, if he’s feeling good,” Valentine said. … Boston is 5-11 against the Yankees, its most losses against New York since 2006.
RAYS 5, ORIOLES 3: Alex Cobb allowed two hits over seven innings Monday night, helping the Tampa Bay Rays keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Ben Zobrist hit his 20th homer and Chris Giminez had a two-run double off Wei-Yin Chen as the Rays pulled away from a 1-1 tie in the seventh. Cobb (11-9) yielded a fourth-inning single to J.J. Hardy and an opposite-field solo homer to Matt Wieters that had tied it in the top of the seventh.
The Rays won for the 11th time in 12 games, a stretch that’s kept them in contention for the AL’s second wild-card.
They began the night trailing Oakland by three games and must sweep the Orioles and hope the A’s drop three straight to Texas to remain alive.
Baltimore already is assured of being in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, but still has its sights on outlasting the Yankees for the AL East title. The Orioles fell a game out of first place behind New York when the Yankees beat Boston.
Zobrist hit a solo homer in the fourth. The Rays scored three unearned runs off Chen (12-11) in the seventh, then added one in the eighth for a 5-1 lead.
Chris Davis homered for the fifth straight game for Baltimore, a two-run shot off Kyle Farnsworth that trimmed Baltimore’s deficit to 5-3 in the ninth.
Fernando Rodney gave up singles to Adam Jones and Wieters to put the potential tying runs on base. The Rays closer struck out Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds before getting Endy Chavez to hit a grounder back to mound to end the game. It was Rodney’s 47th save in 49 opportunities.
The Orioles arrived in St. Petersburg for the season-ending series later than expected Sunday night after their plane had to divert to Jacksonville because of a fire in the galley.
They officially clinched at least a wild-card berth when the Los Angeles Angels lost the second game of a doubleheader to the Texas Rangers late Sunday, and manager Buck Showalter, coaches and players celebrated by having a short meeting and toasting the accomplishment at the team hotel.
“We’ve clinched a spot, but we’ve got an opportunity to win the East. That’s big,” Jones said before the game. “You get to put up a banner at Camden Yards. It speaks something about the team. It means you finished ahead of the Yankees and Boston and Tampa Bay, everybody.”
Cobb retired 10 in a row before Hardy singled between shortstop and third base for Baltimore’s first hit. The 24-year-old right-hander walked Jim Thome with one out in the fifth and Nate McLouth with one out in the sixth. McLouth stole second, but was stranded when J.J. Hardy grounded to shortstop and Chris Davis took a third called strike.
Wieters’ career-high 23rd homer home run cleared the short wall in the left-field corner known as 162 Landing, the spot where Evan Longoria hit the 12th-inning homer that the sent the Rays to the playoffs on the final night of last season.
The Rays took command again against Chen in the seventh, when Longoria reached base on third baseman Manny Machado’s fielding error and eventually scored on Francisco’s sacrifice fly. Sam Fuld on a chopper that bounced over Reynolds’ head at first base, and Giminez followed with his two-run double that made 4-1.
Chen, who’s 0-4 over seven starts since last winning on Aug. 19, hasn’t won since Aug. 19, allowed four runs — three of them unearned — and six hits in 6 2-3 innings. The rookie walked one and struck out four.
NOTES: Zobrist joined B.J. Upton as the only Rays with at least 20 homers. He has driven in 21 runs in 28 games since the start of September. … Baltimore RHP Jason Hammel (sore right knee) threw five innings in the Florida instructional league and could be available to pitch for the Orioles late this week. … Orioles RF Nick Markakis (broken left thumb) will have surgically-inserted pins removed in a week. … Baltimore INF Wilson Betemit had a splint removed from his right wrist and will start a hitting progression in five to seven days. … Orioles RHP Steve Johnson (sore left knee) is day to day. An MRI exam was negative.