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Why 2018 could be monumental for Mike Trout

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The 2017 season was a down year for the Mike Trout fun-fact industry. He played incredibly — through late May, he was probably having his best season — but a fluke thumb injury came along and spoiled his stat-page perfection. Not only did he not challenge 50 homers or a 40/40 season (both seemed within reach before he missed six weeks), but for the first time, he didn’t lead his league in WAR, he didn’t score or drive in 100 runs, he didn’t finish in the top two MVP spots. A fourth-place finish has never been such a letdown.

But we’re bullish on this year’s fun-fact potential. With just a typical-for-him season, he’ll pass all-time greats on some career leaderboards, accomplish things no other player has by age 26 and separate himself even more historically from his contemporaries. And so, in anticipation of the amazing fun facts that await us, Sam Miller challenged David Schoenfield to a fun-fact faceoff. The rules are simple: If Trout has a Trout-like season this year, which fun facts will he be chasing? We’re going three rounds, and Schoenfield acts first.

Round 1

David Schoenfield: We know Trout is obviously one of the best young players of all time. He already ranks fourth among position players in career WAR through their age-26 season, tied with Alex Rodriguez and trailing only Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle and Rogers Hornsby. Here’s the catch: Trout is just now entering his age-26 season. From 2012 to 2017, he averaged 9.1 WAR per season — a figure that includes his injury-shortened 2017 campaign — and if he reaches that 9.1 figure again in 2018, he’ll pass Cobb, 64.3 to 63.2.

But that’s not my first Mike Trout fun fact! That one has been widely noted. I was curious to find out where, if Trout has another typical Trout season, his seven-year run would rank regardless of age. If he has another 9.1 WAR season, here’s what that list looks like (position players only):

  • Babe Ruth, 1921-1927: 72.4

  • Willie Mays, 1960-1966: 70.5

  • Ted Williams, 1940-1949: 65.9 (includes missed seasons during World War II)

  • Honus Wagner, 1903 to 1909: 64.9

  • Rogers Hornsby, 1921 to 1927: 64.4

  • Mickey Mantle, 1955 to 1961: 64.1

  • Mike Trout, 2012 to 2018: 63.6

  • Barry Bonds, 1998 to 2004: 63.0

So the only players above Trout would be Mays, Mantle and four players who accumulated all or, in the case of Williams, almost all of their value before the color barrier was broken. The only other players with 60 WAR over seven seasons are Eddie Collins, Cobb, Lou Gehrig and Albert Pujols.

Amazingly, you could actually break Mays’ career into two non-overlapping runs of 60 WAR. From 1954 to 1960, he compiled 63.0 WAR. From 1961 to 1967, 65.4 WAR. So I guess that’s a Willie Mays fun fact!

Sam Miller: I’m glad you started with this one. There are two different ways to process Trout’s greatness over this first part of his career. One is to say, “Given what he’s already done, he’s well on his way to someday _________.” You can fill in that blank with lots of things: He’s well on his way to someday reaching the top 10 in all-time career WAR, or to someday reaching 3,500 hits, or perhaps even to someday challenging the all-time home run record. In other words, he has been amazing, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to have a truly historically significant career.

I look forward to those pursuits. But I think even if, at the age of 27, his career suddenly veers into oblivion, it shouldn’t cheapen what he has already done — because, as you show, what he’s already done is one of the greatest peaks in history. One of the 10 greatest — probably one of the six greatest — and considering he has done it in his first six (soon to be seven) seasons, it’s even more impressive. A kid born in 1960 turned 40 before he ever got to see anybody play baseball as well as Mike Trout does. (And even that was ambiguous because it was Barry Bonds.) These six years have been truly historically significant, no matter what happens after them. Don’t forget that.

Now, though, for a second, let’s assume the worst happens after them. Let’s assume Trout plays this season and reaches his (relatively conservative) ZiPS projection: 650 plate appearances, 39 homers, .290/.421/.590, around 8.0 WAR. And then, after that, for mysterious reasons, he turns into Tony Womack.

You remember Womack. His rookie season came when he was 27, the age Trout will be in 2019. He stole a bunch of bases, played a ton of games but was otherwise barely there. In fact, since 1981, nobody has had more plate appearances from age 27 on while producing five or fewer wins above replacement. Womack batted more than 5,000 times from 27 on, and the whole time, he was basically as good as the minor league free agent you stash in Triple-A. He hit 36 homers. He slugged .357. He was worth 2.0 WAR. He finally ran out of jobs at age 36.

If Mike Trout, at age 27, became Tony Womack — let’s even say without the steals! — and spent his final decade of play as one of the league’s worst everyday hitters, he’d end up with these final career stats:

.287/.360/.452, 2,544 Runs + RBIs, 1,064 BBs + HBPs, 792 extra-base hits, 65.2 WAR

Trout could spend more than half his career as Tony Womack, be forced into retirement at 36, and his most comparable player would still be a Hall of Famer!

Ron Santo: .277/.362/.464, 2,469 Runs + RBIs, 1,146 BBs + HBPs, 774 extra-base hits, 70.4 WAR.

Round 2

Schoenfield: Ah, Tony Womack, a good reminder of something Mike Trout has never done (and Womack has): played in a World Series. He even delivered that crucial broken-bat double off Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game 7 that tied the game. Some pundits will argue Trout can’t be compared to the all-time greats until he performs in the postseason (he went 1-for-12 in his lone appearance in 2012), but it’s not fair to criticize Trout simply because he hasn’t had teammates as good as Tony Womack’s in 2001. Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Rod Carew and Ernie Banks never played in a World Series and that hasn’t diminished their legacies.

The teammates idea brings me to this: The career record Trout is most likely to break is Rickey Henderson’s mark for runs scored. Runs are important, so that’s a good record! Henderson scored 2,295 runs. Trout is at 692. Henderson was at 586 at the same age but had monster totals of 146 and 130 the next two seasons and would top 100 runs seven more times after that. Trout has averaged 112 runs per season over his first six seasons; if he averages that through age 35, he’s at 1,812 runs, putting him within shouting distance of Henderson.

Here’s the thing, however: If Trout had better teammates, he’d have a lot more runs. You score runs by four primary factors: how often you get on base, how often you drive yourself in with a home run, your ability to run the bases and the quality of hitters following you in the lineup. Trout excels at the first three, but the past three seasons, the Angels have ranked 11th, 10th and 12th in the AL in runs.

Here’s a little study. I look at the percentage of runs scored per time on base (hit, walk, HBP, reached on error) for Trout, Henderson, Alex Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell in their careers:

Rodriguez: 42.5 percent
Henderson: 41.7 percent
Trout: 40.3 percent
Bagwell: 38.4 percent

If Trout had scored runs at the same rate as A-Rod, he’d have 729 runs instead of 692. But remember, that’s A-Rod’s career rate, which includes old, slow and bad-hip A-Rod. He had much higher rates earlier in his career. Henderson has the stolen bases, of course, but Trout has the higher career OBP and more power than Henderson.

I included Bagwell because he’s the only player since 1950 to score 150 runs in a season — 152 in 2000. That year, he scored 48.7 percent of the time he got on base. That’s pretty good. Charlie Blackmon led the majors with 137 runs in 2017 and scored 46.1 percent of the time. With RBI machine Don Mattingly behind him, Rickey scored 52 percent of the time in 1985.

Trout has had just one season in his career with a figure approaching those rates. In his rookie season of 2012, he scored 129 runs in 139 games, scoring 49.2 percent of the time he got on. That was Albert Pujols’ first — and best — season with the Angels, and Torii Hunter had a big year, hitting .312 and driving in Trout 26 times. But look at his other seasons:

2012: 49.2
2013: 34.1
2014: 42.1
2015: 37.1
2016: 39.7
2017: 40.2

So that’s my second Mike Trout fun fact: Even though he has never had a Mattingly or Ken Griffey Jr. or Nolan Arenado to help him out, he might still break Henderson’s record. And maybe a 150-run season is possible (go Justin Upton!).

Miller: Oh, that’s a good one. I think a lot about which record Trout is most likely to break — if any, since his signature skill is well-roundedness. Through age 25, he’s somewhere between fourth and 10th on a bunch of through-that-age leaderboards — walks and extra-base hits (fourth in each), homers and times on base (fifth in each), total bases (seventh) and runs (ninth), but he’s usually ahead of the eventual record-holder’s pace. Runs is a great bet. It’ll probably be runs.

I’m going simple with my second attempt. I’m never not amazed at how fast Trout is climbing certain career leaderboards — not through-that-age leaderboards, but full-on career leaders. At first, he was just passing various Angels in franchise record books, but now he’s doing despicable things to actual legends’ places in history. So, if he has a typical-for-him (I’ll agree with you on 9.1 WAR) season this year, he will pass the following Hall of Famers in career WAR:

Joe Medwick, Luis Aparicio, Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, Hank Greenberg, Willie Stargell, Mike Piazza, Yogi Berra, Zack Wheat, Harmon Killebrew, Jake Beckley, Jackie Robinson, Home Run Baker, Jesse Burkett, Lou Boudreau, Sliding Billy Hamilton, Richie Ashburn, Billy Williams and Dave Winfield; and pitchers Red Ruffing, Eppa Rixey, Jim Bunning, Joe McGinnity, Hal Newhouser, Rube Waddell, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Dazzy Vance, Dennis Eckersley, Ed Walsh and Mickey Welch.

He’ll pass Ichiro Suzuki this year, and Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield and Todd Helton and Mark McGwire and Bobby Abreu. A 9.2 WAR season ties him with Willie McCovey, and 9.3 ties him with Andre Dawson. (Keep in mind, he’s already ahead of a bunch of Hall of Famers, such as George Sisler and Tony Perez and Ralph Kiner and Orlando Cepeda.) He’ll turn 27 in August!

In Win Probability Added — an offense-only counting stat that includes clutchness — he’ll pass Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran and Wade Boggs this year. (He’ll be fourth among all active players! He’s 26!) If he wins the MVP award, he’ll pass Alex Rodriguez and move into 10th place all time in MVP shares. (If he finishes only second, he’ll pass Mike Schmidt and Frank Robinson and Thomas to move into 11th.) If he wins the award, he’ll have more MVP shares than Derek Jeter and Rickey Henderson combined, more than David Ortiz and Cal Ripken Jr. combined. He already has more black ink — meaning, statistical categories that he led the league in — than Jeff Bagwell, Ken Griffey Jr., David Ortiz or Frank Thomas, and with a typical year this year, he’ll pass Sammy Sosa and Duke Snider. He’ll pass Don Mattingly in career home runs this year. These are things he won’t even need a Tony Womack career to accomplish. He’ll have done an awful lot of things.

Round 3

Schoenfield: Have we accurately expressed Trout’s dominance yet? I hope we have. But if you’re still hesitant about comparing him to Mays or Mantle or Bonds or Ruth because you believe players of yesterday were of unmatched brilliance, here’s another variation: Trout’s dominance over his peers puts him on another level of greatness.

Using a seven-year period for cumulative WAR and that same 2018 projection for Trout, his WAR from 2012 to 2018 comes in at 63.6. The No. 2 position player in that period will likely be Josh Donaldson at an estimated 44.4 WAR (assuming 6.5 WAR for 2018). There are 18 other players who have accumulated 55 or more WAR over seven seasons. Leaving aside Ted Williams (whose stretch was interrupted by World War II) and using each player’s best seven-year stretch, here are the gaps of at least 10 WAR between the top players:

Ruth was an unmatched force, but Rogers Hornsby was doing similar things at the same time. Lou Gehrig was great, but he had Ruth in the same lineup. Ty Cobb and Eddie Collins had the same dominant stretch from 1909 to 1915, with Tris Speaker right on their heels. Stan Musial was great, but Jackie Robinson wasn’t far behind. Mantle had Mays. Young Bonds had Griffey, and old Bonds had A-Rod. In other words, those players all had a legitimate rival for “best player in the game.”

Trout? He towers over everyone. He has no rival. Maybe you think this is some quirk of history. It could be, although I don’t believe that’s the case. If anything, the game is deeper with better and more talented athletes than ever before and Trout still manages to crush his peers with his all-around brilliance. Here’s another way to look at it: If you take the top seven players in WAR in 2017 — Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Votto, Nolan Arenado, Andrelton Simmons and Jose Ramirez — their combined WAR adds up 52.7. Trout could miss the entire 2018 season and his seven-year total would still be higher than that group’s combined total.

Miller: Well, speaking of “towering over his peers” …

My last one is a little complicated, and I’m not sure I’ll land it. But here goes: If Mike Trout has a typical Mike Trout year this year, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be more valuable than all the players drafted ahead of him combined are this season. Even more incredibly, he still has a shot at being more valuable in his career than all of them combined.

Here’s how I figure. There were 23 players picked before him. (Plus his former teammate Randal Grichuk, but you shouldn’t count Randal Grichuk.) So far, the 23 of them are winning the race. Trout has 55.2 career WAR; the 23 players deemed better than him have 97.4 WAR.

But baseball is a game of attrition. While Trout is arguably reaching his prime, a lot of his draft class has already gotten hurt, peaked and descended, or even retired. Few of those 23 players are still adding significant value.

In fact, only seven had positive WARs in the majors last year. Four others appeared in the majors with negative WARs. (Nine are retired or pitching in independent leagues, and the final three are bouncing around as minor league veterans.) The 11 who appeared in the majors project this year to be worth … 10 WAR. Just enough to edge a typical Mike Trout year. But not enough to edge an excellent Mike Trout year, and heavily dependent on the health of Stephen Strasburg.

Whether the 23 will hold off Trout for the long-term likewise depends on Strasburg and A.J. Pollock. My guess is Trout will end up around 140 career WAR — behind Hank Aaron but ahead of Tris Speaker, sixth all time among position players. If he does, the 23 need to add another 43 WAR. Right now, with Strasburg healthy and dominating, that looks like an easy ask. But pitchers are fragile and their peaks sometimes fleeting. Strasburg’s most similar pitchers through age 28 include those who were stars well into their late 30s (Roy Halladay, David Cone) and those who added almost nothing after 28 (Tim Lincecum, Matt Morris). The median outcome of his comps is around 15 additional WAR.

I don’t think Trout will catch the 23. Even if Strasburg or Pollock doesn’t significantly expand the lead, one of Mike Leake, Shelby Miller, Mike Minor or Kyle Gibson will have an unexpectedly long and effective career tail. There are too many players still active for Trout to dodge them all. But even by Trout’s age-26 season, almost half of his draft peers have gone dark. It’s extremely likely he’ll eventually outlast the rest — that after his final rival has retired, he’ll still be putting up three, six, maybe even nine wins a season.

Fun fact: He’s really good.

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How Dodgers phenom Gavin Lux wants to make a difference in Kenosha

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Gavin Lux is only 22 years old, still technically navigating through his rookie season. He’s trying to figure out his swing, trying to learn the pitching in Major League Baseball, trying to live up to the lofty expectations of being a highly rated prospect and trying to carve out a role on a Los Angeles Dodgers team that stands among the most talented in recent memory.

Lately, though, Lux has found himself consumed by his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin, a lakeside community of around 100,000 people that has become embroiled in the racial tension that has risen across the nation over the last four months.

Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer with his three children in the car on Aug. 23, sparking several nights of protests that escalated into violence and led to the shooting death of two demonstrators.

Lux has spent a lot of these past few weeks thinking about his family and friends back home, particularly his brother-in-law, a cousin of Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon, and his nephew, both of whom are Black.

It helped spur him into action.

“I can’t look at my nephew in the eye and say, ‘Hey man, I didn’t fight for you,'” Lux said. “Naw, I can’t do that.”

Lux has been in touch with business owners and community leaders to gather intel on the best ways to help. The details are still hazy, but he has vowed to be proactive. He wants to set up a fundraiser for the businesses that have been impacted, and he wants to get back into the community as soon as the Dodgers’ postseason run is over. The hope is to put together some sort of charitable event, perhaps a softball game or a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, to raise money and help bring the community back together.

“I feel like anybody can just write a check,” Lux said, “but this is where I grew up.”

Gordon is also from Kenosha. So is Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes and social media influencer Tristan Jass. Lux is hoping to recruit all three in an effort to slowly pick up the pieces. Before a recent game against the Colorado Rockies, Lux spoke to ESPN about the dynamics of his hometown and the challenges it faces. (This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity.)

How quickly did you realize you needed to do something?

Lux: It took a couple of days just to sit and talk to some family members and some friends and some other people in the community that were affected. I was like, “Man, there’s gotta be something I could do to use my platform to be able to help.”

What were you hearing from your friends and family members about what it was like over there during that time?

Lux: It was a crazy time. A lot of different people were affected, businesswise, a lot of families were affected. They just said a lot of the city was struggling and that it was definitely just a completely different vibe from what it usually was. The community, for me, feels like it’s a tight-knit community. It’s not a super small city, but everybody kind of knows everybody, it feels like. Just to see everybody go through it a little bit, it kind of hurt me.

You’ve spent the vast majority of your life immersed in being a baseball player, and so much of your mindset has been set on what it’s going to take to get to the major leagues and stay there. Had you gotten to a point where you thought far enough ahead about how you would ultimately use your platform, or did this event trigger that for the first time?

Lux: It’s always in the back of my mind, but for it to hit so close to home, it caused a trigger where I was like, “Man, I do have a little bit of a platform, I can help. How can I help? What is the best way to help?” Those were kind of the thoughts that went through my head. Having it happen in my hometown definitely triggered it. But you see guys on our team like [Justin Turner] and [Clayton Kershaw] doing so many good things in the community, Mookie [Betts]. Pretty much everybody on our team is doing something good. Just being around those guys and seeing what they’re doing — it rubs off on me where it makes you want to help people and do good. That’s how it happens, you know?

How would you describe what it was like to grow up in Kenosha?

Lux: Everyone supports each other, and it really does feel like a tight-knit community. It’s right next to the water, you’re always going to the beach in the summer, stuff like that. I love the city. People might have the wrong [impression] about it, but it’s a really good city. And to grow up there, I feel lucky.

This can be difficult to pick up on while you’re still growing up, but did you ever consider it to be a racially divided city?

Lux: No, I don’t think so. Honestly I don’t. I don’t know if what happened triggered that. But I honestly don’t think it is. I really don’t. You see these protests and you see people doing these gatherings and stuff like that, and there’s people from all different walks of life. To say it’s racially divided — I don’t think it’s accurate at all.

What was Aug. 26 like for you? Your hometown NBA team [the Milwaukee Bucks] decides to boycott a playoff game, and then later that night you’re in the clubhouse in San Francisco where your teammates ultimately decide not to play against the Giants.

Lux: I support our whole team, obviously. I support equality and all that. For me it was emotional. Kenosha was affected, obviously. And if you have conversations with your teammates and other African-American people, you really understand what is going on. People just have to have these conversations to understand what is going on. To hear from some of my teammates and other people — I’m all in. I support the hell out of whatever we’re gonna do here.

Mookie has been very proactive in the fight against social injustice, and Kershaw has gone out of his way to educate himself on the topic. What have you learned about the Black Lives Matter movement while sharing a clubhouse with them?

Lux: You gotta put yourself in a guy like Mookie’s shoes and really understand what he’s saying and his real-life experiences. Not just Mookie, either. There’s a lot of other people, other family members and friends that I’ve talked to. You have to try to put yourself in their shoes and realize what’s going on and try to get an understanding. I keep saying this, but you just have to have these conversations. They might not be the most comfortable conversations ever, but to understand, you have to have them.

What have your conversations with your brother-in-law and your nephew been like in recent weeks?

Lux: Pretty emotional, actually. These are people that I really care about and love, and hearing them get emotional about it, it really hits home. It’s emotional. I want to see my nephew grow up and have the same opportunities that other people do.

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MLB Sunday Spotlight – Will Twins or Cubs last longer in playoffs?

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With the 2020 MLB season hitting the home stretch (already!), ESPN has a Sunday doubleheader with four teams hoping to make some noise in October. The Giants and A’s get things going at 4 p.m. ET, followed by Twins-Cubs at 7 p.m. ET.

To get you ready for the twin bill, we asked national baseball reporters David Schoenfield and Jesse Rogers some key questions about the teams.

The Oakland Athletics haven’t advanced in the playoffs since 2006. Will they break that slump this year?

Jesse Rogers: Not if they play the Cleveland Indians in the first round. The A’s starters are good but none give you that scare the Indians can throw at you. Cleveland has its own issues, which might show up in a longer series. But shutting down an offense for two games? That should be Cleveland’s specialty this postseason.

David Schoenfield: The good news is that after three straight losses in the wild-card game (2014, 2018, 2019) the A’s will at least get a best-of-three opportunity this time. The strength of the team is the bullpen, which isn’t the worst thing to have going for you in a short series. Manager Bob Melvin would have quick hooks for his starters and rely on his relievers. As of now, the A’s would actually play the Astros in the first round and they’ve gone 7-3 against Houston. Those games have been extremely low scoring, with the A’s averaging just 3.8 runs per game and Houston 2.5.

I’ll say A’s over Astros, but I’m with Jesse if they meet Cleveland, I’ll go with the Indians shutting an Oakland offense that will be without Matt Chapman and has seen Marcus Semien and Matt Olson fail to replicate their 2019 production.

How are the Chicago Cubs doing as well as they are with Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber all hitting around .200?

Rogers: Pitching. Just like the Indians, the Cubs have been fueled by the top end of their rotation as well as an improving bullpen. There isn’t a need to look deeper than Yu Darvish (Whose return to dominance I profiled here), Kyle Hendricks and ‘no-hit’ Alec Mills as a good part of the reason the Cubs are in first place despite some down years by their stars.

Schoenfield: The Cubs haven’t hit — but nobody has in the NL Central. Are they using balls left over from 2014 in that division or something? Entering the weekend, the Cubs actually rank 17th in the majors in wOBA, which isn’t great, but is still the best in the division. Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Jason Kipnis have helped to make the offense respectable and the pitching/defense entered the weekend allowing the second fewest runs per game in the NL, behind only the Dodgers.

Which of the two teams — the Twins or the Cubs — will last longer in the playoffs?

Schoenfield: Well, it looks like the Twins are pretty much locked in to face the Yankees in the first round, it’s just a matter of where that series will be played. The Twins, of course, are riding a seemingly impossible streak of 16 consecutive postseason defeats going back to the 2004 Division Series. Thirteen of those losses have come against the Yankees. You can’t really say the Yankees are in their heads because these have been different groups of Minnesota players, but it’s fair to venture that the Twins would probably rather face anybody else in the first round. When they met last season, the Twins’ rotation was on fumes because of injuries and they’re in better shape this year with Kenta Maeda having a terrific season. In fact, dare I suggest the Twins do this: Skip Maeda in Game 1 and use Randy Dobnak or a bullpen game against Gerrit Cole and then go Maeda in Game 2 and Jose Berrios in Game 3?

(So my answer is the Cubs will last longer.)

Rogers: Neither. They’ll both go out after the first round.

Schoenfield: Ahh, Jesse, you underrated the Cubs. The bottom of the NL is terrible. They’re going to play the Giants or Marlins or Reds or Phillies; I’ll take the Cubs over any of those teams, although Darvish’s postseason history is, umm, a pause for concern.

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Yankees tie franchise record with 12th straight win vs. Red Sox

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BOSTON — The New York YankeesBoston Red Sox rivalry is considered one of the greatest in all sports.

But in the past two years, it has certainly turned into a one-sided affair.

The Yankees pummeled the Red Sox 8-0 on Saturday night for their 12th consecutive victory over their AL East rivals, tying a franchise record. The Yankees have won 12 straight games vs. Boston and 17 of the last 18 games between the clubs since July 28, 2019.

“It’s probably a little bit fluky, a little aberration,” said manager Aaron Boone when addressing the franchise’s record-tying streak. “Obviously, [the Red Sox] haven’t quite been the same team this year with some of the guys they’ve lost and some of the guys in their pitching staff that they’ve lost due to injury.

“And this year I know we’ve played them at some times when we’ve been playing really well. We’ve stolen a couple wins from them, like late last night. Last year, we caught them at a good time at the end of the year. Look, it’s always fun beating those guys. We obviously respect who they are and all the great games we’ve had to play against them, but … enjoy it while it lasts.”

The Yankees’ current win streak against Boston is their longest since winning 12 straight from Aug. 16, 1952 to April 23, 1953. It’s only the third time in franchise history that the Yankees have won 12 straight games against the Red Sox (also May 27-Aug 23, 1936).

J.A. Happ, who worked eight scoreless innings to earn his second win of the season, said the Yankees were mindful of the winning streak and hoped to set a new record on Sunday when they play their last game of the season at Fenway Park.

“I know we have a good team and we’re playing well,” Happ said. “We are aware of that number [12 straight], excited to get out there tomorrow and try to take the nod [set the record] there. We recognized it tonight that we could tie it.”

“We’re focused on trying to put ourselves in a really good position for the playoffs, and winning [Sunday] would set the record — and that’s going to be really cool thing if we do,” added outfielder Clint Frazier, who went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.

The Yankees have now won a season-high 10 straight games, matching their longest winning streak since June 2012. During their current streak, the Bronx Bombers have hit 29 home runs and have outscored opponents 85-25.

At 31-21, the Yankees clinched their 28th consecutive winning record since 1993, the second-longest stretch in MLB history behind only their own streak of 39 straight winning seasons from 1926-64. The Yankees’ “magic number” to clinch a postseason berth currently stands at one.

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