BOSTON — Mookie Betts claimed the big league batting title with one more hit and J.D. Martinez hit his 43rd homer Sunday to lead the AL East champion Boston Red Sox into the playoffs with their franchise-record 108th win, a 10-2 victory over the wild-card winning New York Yankees.
Five days before they might meet in the postseason for the first time since Boston’s epic comeback in their cathartic 2004 World Series championship run, the teams ran out 41 players in a meaningless Game 162. Red Sox manager Alex Cora compared it to the final day of spring training.
Now they turn their attention to the playoffs: New York has to go through Oakland first, in Wednesday night’s AL wild-card game. The winner will be in Boston for Game 1 of the AL Division Series, starting Friday.
Betts finished with a major league-best .346 average, Martinez drove in three to give him an AL-best 130 RBIs, and Rick Porcello pitched two innings of no-hit ball before leaving with a 7-0 lead in his final tuneup for the postseason. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner is expected to start Game 3 of the ALDS, following Chris Sale and David Price to the mound.
Eduardo Rodriguez (13-5) was credited with the win by the official scorer as the most effective reliever under MLB Rule 9.17(b). Rodriguez was the fourth of eight Boston pitchers, going one inning and striking out two.
Xander Bogaerts also homered for Boston.
Betts had already taken the field at the beginning of the third inning when Cora sent Tzu-Wei Lin out to replace him, allowing the AL MVP favorite to get a cheer on his way back to the dugout. A brief “M-V-P!” chant broke out.
Betts led the majors in slugging percentage, runs and WAR. He is the first player in baseball history to lead the majors in batting average and also top 30 steals and 30 homers. He is the first AL player to lead the majors in both batting average and extra-base hits since Mickey Mantle in 1956.
Four of the first five Red Sox batters reached base in the first against Yankees starter Luis Cessa, plus an error by Aaron Judge that allowed Betts to score from first on Brock Holt’s single. With one out and runners on second and third, Eduardo Nunez hit one to the right side, beyond the pitcher’s reach.
First baseman Luke Voit fielded it and flipped it to Cessa, who arrived at first at the same time as the runner, tagging him but dropping the ball. Both Cessa and Nunez need medical attention; Nunez stayed in the game but Cessa was relieved by David Robertson.
It was the earliest Robertson has entered a game in his career.
Cessa (1-4) got just one out, allowing four runs — three earned — on five hits. Boston added three more in the second inning.
Yankees: DH Giancarlo Stanton was a late scratch from the lineup, replaced by Miguel Andujar. The Yankees said it was not injury-related and only to give Stanton some rest.
Red Sox: Nunez remained in the game after a bit of a collision with Cessa on his first-inning infield single but remained in the game until he was pinch run for after a sixth-inning walk.
Yankees: New York finished 100-62, its 20th 100-win season and a nine-game improvement over last year. The Yankees had the third-best record in baseball, behind Boston and Houston. … They join the Pirates as the only teams to play twice in the wild-card game. … Have reached the playoffs in 20 of the past 24 seasons. … Voit homered, No. 267 on the season for the Yankees, a major league record that topped the 264 hit by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. … Andujar hit his 47th double, tied for second-most for a rookie in major league history.
Red Sox: In winning their third straight AL East title and setting a franchise record for wins, the Red Sox improved by 15 victories over their 2017 record. … Twelve teams in baseball history have won as many as 108 games. Seattle won 116 in 2001 but lost in the ALCS to the Yankees. The previous four won the World Series. … Boston snapped a three-game losing streak but completed the season without losing four in a row. It was the only team in baseball to go all season without losing four straight. It also accomplished that in 1903 and 2013, winning the World Series in both years. … The last Red Sox player to win the AL batting title was Bill Mueller, with a .326 average in 2003. Wade Boggs was the last Boston player to lead the majors in average, hitting .366 in 1988.