Red Sox

5 takeaways as Red Sox sweep Mets, hold two-game lead in AL wild card chase

The Red Sox took care of business with their series against the Yankees looming.

Red Sox sweep Mets
Red Sox Kiké Hernández gets a hand from Hunter Renfroe as they run in from the outfield. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Here are the takeaways, as the Red Sox rolled over the Mets 12-5 in their final tune-up before a pivotal showdown against the Yankees this weekend.

The Big Picture

The Red Sox jumped on top immediately in the first inning, as Kyle Schwarber hit a 434-foot bomb to center-field — a preview of the evening for the Mets and starter Taijuan Walker. The Red Sox picked up a second run when J.D. Martinez singled in Xander Bogaerts.

The Mets got a run back in the second, but the Red Sox exploded in the bottom of the frame. Kiké Hernández doubled in Hunter Renfroe, and Schwarber hit his second homer in as many innings — driving a high fastball 405 feet to right to build a 6-1 advantage.

The Red Sox cruised the rest of the way, continuing to build their lead. Four more runs rolled across the plate in the third, highlighted by Jose Iglesias’ two-run triple. Iglesias scored as well on the play when the Mets threw the ball into the dugout trying to get him. The Mets got four runs back, but the Red Sox added two more to claim a 12-5 victory that was never in doubt after the second frame.

Star of the Game

Kyle Schwarber — 3-for-4, four runs, four RBIs, walk, two homers, double

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Schwarber put together one of the most impressive stat lines of the season for the Red Sox and was responsible for both of the blasts that helped put the game out of reach early.

What It Means

The Yankees beat the Rangers, but the Blue Jays lost to the Rays and dipped out of the final spot in the wild card race for the time being. The Red Sox’s victory kept them two games ahead of New York, but now the Yankees hold the second wild-card slot. The Blue Jays are two games behind the Red Sox.

Takeaways

1. The Mets would probably prefer never to see Kyle Schwarber again after this season. In five games against the Mets with both the Red Sox and Nationals, Schwarber ripped nine homers and 11 extra-base hits to go with 14 RBIs. He slashed .545/.583/1.864 in 22 at-bats.

Alex Cora said Schwarber warned other Red Sox hitters about Walker’s fastball in their pre-game meetings.

“Just knowing he has a good fastball, he believes in it and you have to be ready for it, because if you’re not ready for it, it’s going to be hard to hit,” Schwarber said. “… It felt like the at-bats all around today were very quality off him. Obviously a tough pitcher, he was an All-Star, but obviously a great whole team effort today.”

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Schwarber claimed he hadn’t really thought about his hot year against the Mets and said it might be random.

“I’m just going out there every day trying to stay simple, stay short and have good at-bats, good quality at-bats, good team at-bats,” Schwarber said. “That’s the only thing I’m thinking about up there.”

2. Chris Sale, who is now 5-0 this season, gave up six hits and two earned runs, but he struck out eight in five innings and continues to look healthy.

He said he felt healthy after the game as well — ready for a potentially taxing postseason.

“I don’t have any reserve or question in my ability to pitch into later innings or higher pitch counts,” Sale said. “I train for this. This is what I train myself for on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. When we get to crunch time and that’s what’s called upon, we’re going to do it. I have too much love and respect for these guys at the top to question it.

“I know what the plan is, I know where we’re at and what we’re trying to accomplish, and like I said, when that time comes, we’ll handle it.”

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3. Matt Barnes continued to struggle in a brief, low-pressure sixth-inning appearance. He pitched just 0.1 innings, walked two batters and gave up a single to load the bases before he was replaced by Ryan Brasier. Brasier coaxed a double-play that allowed a run to score but otherwise kept the Red Sox unscathed in the inning.

Barnes’ continued struggles are very concerning for the Red Sox, and they prompted some observers to wonder whether the team would even include Barnes on the postseason roster.

4. After a tough stretch in which fielding errors cost the Red Sox a number of runs, the defense seems to have regained its footing. On Wednesday, Hernández fired a perfect throw from center to catch Jonathan Villar trying to tag from second, and Jose Iglesias turned a beautiful double play.

“I think it was game-changer right there,” Cora said of Iglesias’s double play. “That ball goes by, and we might have to go to the bullpen earlier and it’s a different ball game. He got to that ball, his reaction was great, the feed was awesome, and the turn was great. We’ve been a lot better lately.”

5. Yes, the Red Sox will likely wear their yellow jerseys again on Friday when they face the Yankees.

No, they aren’t doing it because they are superstitious (if you believe Cora, and you probably shouldn’t).

“It just happens that six o’clock, those uniforms are there,” Cora said with a big smile. “So it’s part of our routine right now.”

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