The Associated PressBOSTON (AP) — The music blared in the clubhouse behind the door to manager Aaron Boone’s office — “New York, New York” was playing through the speakers, and a few voices could be heard joining in on the lyrics.
The New York Yankees had an extra reason to be happy after ending their longtime rivals’ run atop the AL East.
New York officially stopped Boston’s three-year reign as division champs, blanking the Red Sox 5-0 Monday night behind another big effort by James Paxton.
“Absolutely, it’s awesome,” Paxton said. “We feel really confident as a team right now and it feels great to knock those guys out.”
Hours after the defending World Series champion Red Sox parted ways with team president Dave Dombrowski, and right after former star David Ortiz returned to Fenway Park three months after being shot, they were shut out at home for the first time this season.
Boston dropped 18½ games behind the division-leading Yankees with 18 games left.
The Red Sox are still in playoff contention, but barely. They remained eight games behind the second wild-card spot.
Paxton (13-6) won his eighth straight start, allowing four hits in 6⅔ innings, as the Yankees increased their lead to nine games over second-place Tampa Bay. New York is tied with Houston for the best record in the majors.
Austin Romine and Gio Urshela each hit solo homers for the Yankees, who took the final three of a four-game series and finished the season 14-5 against their longtime rivals. New York increased its club record to 270 homers, a night after setting the mark.
“It’s not about talent. We’re very talented, it just happened that over 19 games they were better than us,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
In his first public appearance since June 9, when he was shot and seriously injured in a Santo Domingo nightclub, Ortiz walked out steady and strong to a cheering crowd before he threw the pitch to former teammate and catcher Jason Varitek.
“It’s amazing. It’s always good to see him back and in good spirits,” Bradley said. “He’s very thankful for all the prayers and doctors. He’s a special one to have, and we’re glad to have him as close to full strength.”
Astros turn on power early
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros showed how powerful their lineup can be for a second straight game.
Zack Greinke struck out five in six strong innings, Robinson Chirinos and Yordan Alvarez each homered twice as Houston hit a major league-record six home runs in the first two innings, and the high-scoring Astros routed the Oakland Athletics 15-0 Monday night for their fifth straight victory.
Monday’s offensive outburst, combined with Sunday’s 21-1 win over Seattle, helped the Astros set a franchise record for runs scored in consecutive games with 36.
“We were just incredibly explosive again tonight in a game that had a really good feel in the beginning,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said.