NEW YORK – Sitting on Alex Cora’s desk in the visiting manager’s office at Yankee Stadium were two bottles of chilled champagne and a handwritten note congratulating him.
After waiting a few days, the Boston Red Sox finally got to break out the bubbly in the Bronx.
Mookie Betts and the Red Sox won their third consecutive AL East championship Thursday night, clinching on enemy turf with an 11-6 victory over the rival New York Yankees.
“It feels good, man. We’re not going to hide it,” said Cora, the rookie manager of the Red Sox. “We’re going to celebrate. We’re going to enjoy it. This is a tough division. That team we just played, they’re amazing.”
Betts homered, doubled twice and drove in five runs, finishing with four hits as Boston overcame Giancarlo Stanton’s go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a tying home run in the seventh and Xander Bogaerts put the Red Sox ahead with a sacrifice fly.
With a playoff berth already secured, Boston (104-49) closed out a once-tight division race with nine games to spare. J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox, alone in first place since July 2, will open the postseason at home in Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against an opponent to be determined.
“We haven’t won what we want to win yet,” Betts said in a champagne-soaked clubhouse.
Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka lasted just four-plus innings in a no-decision.
Tanaka, who won his last three starts, took the mound in the fifth but was pulled from the game after yielding back-to-back hits to the first two batters he faced — a double to Betts and a single to Andrew Benintendi.
Yankees teammate Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth that erased a two-run deficit, but in the seventh, Red Sox center fielder Bradley belted a clutch homer off Chad Green (8-3) to ignite a three-run rally.
Betts put the Yankees away in the eighth when he hit a three-run blast for his 30th homer of the season.
“They were better, no question,” said Tanaka, who gave up five runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking none.
Never before had Boston finished in first place three years in a row . The club needs one victory to match the franchise record held by the 1912 World Series champions.
Athletics 21, Angels 3
In Oakland, Los Angeles catcher Francisco Arcia began the day behind the plate, did a brief stint on the mound and ended up in the major league record books.
Arcia pitched two innings of relief and hit his sixth home run in the lopsided loss to the Athletics.
In doing so, Arcia became the first player to catch, pitch and homer in the same game since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The 29-year-old Arcia was already in the record books after driving in 10 runs in his first two games after being called up from the minors on July 26.
Los Angeles designated hitter Shohei Ohtani went 0-for-2 with a walk and reliever Junichi Tazawa allowed a run on two hits in one-third of an inning.
The Athletics pounded out 22 hits against six Los Angeles pitchers.
Blue Jays 9, Rays 8
In Toronto, Justin Smoak hit his third career walk-off home run to complete a seven-run ninth inning, and the Blue Jays came back to stun Tampa Bay after the Rays took an 8-2 lead into the ninth.
Toronto’s winning inning began with consecutive double by Dwight Smith Jr. and Rowdy Tellez, who also had a two-run homer in a three-RBI game, and was capped by back-to-back homers by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Smoak.
Braves 8, Phillies 3
In Atlanta, Dansby Swanson and pinch hitter Lucas Duda ripped back-to-back doubles in the seventh to lift the Braves to victory over visiting Philadelphia.
Atlanta added four runs in the eighth inning to put the game away and lower its magic number to win the NL East to four.
Mets 5, Nationals 4 (12)
In Washington, Jose Lobaton delivered a sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th that gave New York an extra-inning win.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer broke the team’s record for strikeouts in a season — a mark that he set two years ago. The right-hander fanned 13 in seven innings and now has 290 strikeouts this year. However, Scherzer gave up two homers and three runs and left trailing 3-2.
Reds 4, Marlins 2
In Miami, Scooter Gennett, bidding for a NL batting title, homered, doubled and drove in four runs to lead Cincinnati to a win.
Gennett, who is now hitting .318 and trails only Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich (.319), went 2-for-3. He hit a two-run, two-out double that one-hopped the wall in left-center field in the third inning, then hit a two-run, two-out homer that landed in the upper deck in right in the seventh.
White Sox 5, Indians 4 (11)
Matt Davidson singled home the go-ahead run with two outs in the top of the 11th as Chicago defeated host Cleveland.
The White Sox avoided not only a sweep of the three-game series, but also a sweep of the games between the teams played at Progressive Field this season. Chicago finished 1-8 in Cleveland.
Tigers 11, Royals 8
In Detroit, Christin Stewart hit the first two homers of his career during the first two innings and drove in six runs, powering the Tigers past Kansas City.
Stewart hit a two-run shot and a three-run blast and added a bases-loaded walk for Detroit. Nicholas Castellanos tripled, homered and scored twice, while JaCoby Jones had two hits and also scored two runs. Zac Reininger (1-0) collected his first major league win while giving up two runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief.