BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory, topping the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Monday and clinching home-field advantage through the postseason thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.
Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Baltimore batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and most likely Oakland.
The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.
The Orioles (45-111), who matched a franchise record for losses set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns, became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60½ games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It’s the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.
Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.
Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.
Indians 4, White Sox 0
In Chicago, Corey Kluber struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings and won his 20th game, and Brandon Guyer hit a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh as AL Central champion Cleveland blanked the White Sox.
Kluber (20-7) reached 20 victories for the first time after recording 19 wins last season and 18 victories the two previous seasons and in 2014. The reigning AL CY Young Award winner is the first 20-game winner for the Central Division champions since Cliff Lee went 22-3 in 2008.
The Indians are also the first team to have four pitchers with 200 strikeouts in a season. Kluber ran his total to 216, while Carlos Carrasco has 217, Trevor Bauer 215 and Mike Clevinger 202.
Cleveland tied the Chicago Cubs for the major league lead with 17 shutouts.
Athletics 7, Mariners 3
In Seattle, Oakland clinched its first playoff berth in four years, then beat the Mariners behind Khris Davis’ major league-leading 46th home run.
Jonathan Lucroy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Chapman also homered for the Athletics, assured no worse than an AL wild card.
Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 4
In Phoenix, David Freese homered and had three hits to back Clayton Kershaw as Los Angeles maintained its lead in the NL West.
Manny Machado had two RBIs for the Dodgers, including a groundout deep into the shortstop hole with the bases loaded in the seventh inning that brought in Yasiel Puig with the go-ahead run. Los Angeles added three ninth-inning runs to stay 1½ games ahead of Colorado.
The defending NL champions have won six of seven.
Freese finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Kershaw (9-5) pitched six innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He struck out six and walked one.
Los Angeles reliever Kenta Maeda worked two-thirds of an inning and recorded a hold. He fanned one.
Arizona reliever Yoshihisa Hirano pitched two-thirds of an inning and yielded three runs on two hits. He issued two walks and struck out two and threw two wild pitches.
Hirano set a record with 74 games pitched in relief, the most by any Japanese major leaguer in a single season.
“I knew I had just one more game (to set the record), but I am always under pressure not knowing when I will give up runs like I did today,” said Hirano. “This is the result of working hard every day.”
Angels 5, Rangers 4 (11)
In Anaheim, Jose Briceno delivered a pinch-hit homer leading off the 11th inning, and Los Angeles snapped its five-game skid.
After Taylor Cole (3-2) retired the Rangers in the 11th, the Angels’ rookie catcher walked off with his fifth career homer to center off Matt Moore (3-8).
Shohei Ohtani, who went 1-for-5, hit his 21st homer in the first inning and Michael Hermosillo added his first career homer as the Angels opened the final homestand of their fourth consecutive season out of the playoffs.
Yankees 4, Rays 1
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Aaron Hicks injured his left hamstring running up the first-base line in the Yankees’ win, another concern for New York heading into next week’s AL wild-card game.
Hicks’ 11th-inning double on Saturday drove in Didi Gregorius with the run that clinched a postseason berth, and on Sunday the Yankees learned Gregorius tore cartilage in his right wrist during his headfirst slide across the plate.
Hicks, who had fouled a pitch off his left ankle just before the double, left Monday’s game with left hamstring tightness.
Brett Gardner had a go-ahead single off Ryan Yarbrough (15-6) in a two-run fifth.
Astros 5, Blue Jays 3
In Toronto, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick hit back-to-back home runs, and Houston beat the Blue Jays to move one step closer to its second straight AL West title.
Rockies 10, Phillies 1
In Denver, Jon Gray pitched seven crisp innings and drew a bases-loaded walk as part of a five-run third to lead Colorado over Philadelphia.
Brewers 6, Cardinals 4
In St. Louis, Eric Thames scored on reliever Bud Norris’ throwing error in the eighth inning and Milwaukee improved their playoff positioning by topping the Cardinals.
Ryan Braun homered and Christian Yelich drove in two runs as Milwaukee won for the fourth time in five games.
Pirates 5, Cubs 1
In Chicago, Jameson Taillon outpitched Cole Hamels, Francisco Cervelli smacked a two-run homer and Pittsburgh made the Cubs wait at least another day to clinch a playoff spot.
Nationals 7, Marlins 3
In Washington, Anthony Rendon homered and drove four runs, Bryce Harper reached 100 RBIs in a season for the first time and the Nationals downed Miami.
Padres 5, Giants 0
In San Francisco, Bryan Mitchell struck out seven in 8⅔ strong innings, and Jose Pirela had a homer among his three hits to lead San Diego.