Final, Red Sox 6-3: The Red Sox have won the American League East.
Koji Uehara finished off a five-out save with a scoreless ninth inning, and Boston has won its first AL East title since 2007.
Jon Lester went seven strong innings to earn the win. He was once again in ace-like form, and it’d be shocking if he didn’t take the ball in Game 1 of the ALDS.
End 8th, Red Sox 6-3: The Red Sox added a run in the eighth inning.
Will Middlebrooks singled down the left field line. The ball ricocheted off the wall in foul territory and bounced back out toward left field, forcing Middlebrooks to toss on the brakes after rounding first base.
Middlebrooks moved up into scoring position via his third stolen base of the season. He scored when Dustin Pedroia singled into center field.
Koji Uehara will now come back out with a three-run lead as the Red Sox look to clinch the AL East title.
10:21 p.m., Red Sox 5-3: While the Red Sox lead 5-3 at Fenway Park, the Rays and Orioles are tied 4-4 in the seventh inning at Tropicana Field.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-3: Koji Uehara put an end to Toronto’s threat in the eighth inning. The Red Sox are now three outs away from winning the AL East.
Mark DeRosa greeted Uehara with a fly ball toward the gap in left-center field, and Jackie Bradley Jr. ranged over to make the grab. Bradley traveled a long way to make the catch, although the rookie made it look relatively routine.
Anthony Gose hit a slow ground ball to short with two outs in the eighth that resulted in an infield hit. That’s where the Blue Jays’ fun ended.
Uehara struck out J.P. Arencibia to end the inning. The Red Sox will now look to get those two runs back before Uehara heads back out for what should be a loud ninth inning at Fenway Park.
10:09 p.m., Red Sox 5-3: Nobody said closing this game out was going to be easy.
Adam Lind dropped a pinch-hit two-run homer on top of the Green Monster in the eighth inning to cut Boston’s lead to 5-3.
Rajai Davis led off the eighth with a double, and Lind pinch hit for Kevin Pillar with one out after Brett Lawrie grounded to second base.
Junichi Tazawa tried to put Lind away with a 2-2 pitch in the dirt, and the slugger laid off it. Lind went the other way with the next pitch. He drilled a line drive to left field that hit the railing in front of the first row of Monster seats.
Moises Sierra followed Lind’s 23rd home run of the season with a single into left field. John Farrell will now turn to his closer with one out in the eighth inning and the tying run at the plate. Koji Uehara is coming in to pitch.
End 7th, Red Sox 5-1: The Red Sox scored three runs in the seventh inning to open up a 5-1 lead.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Nava and David Ortiz delivered four straight singles that resulted in Boston’s third run of the game.
The Blue Jays then made a pitching change with the bases loaded and no outs. Jeremy Jeffress took over for Neil Wagner.
Jeffress calmed things down by getting Mike Napoli to ground into a double play. Napoli hit a ground ball to short, and Jose Reyes fired home to start up the 6-2-3 twin killing.
Mike Carp made sure that the Red Sox added a couple of more runs, though. Carp delivered a two-strike single into left-center field to drive in two runs and increase Boston’s lead to 5-1. (Carp also worked a bases-loaded walk back in the third inning.)
Junichi Tazawa will be the new Red Sox pitcher in the eighth inning after seven strong frames from Jon Lester.
Lester gave up one run on five hits in his seven innings of work. He struck out eight, walked two and threw 123 pitches (82 strikes). It’d be shocking if Lester didn’t take the ball in Game 1 of the ALDS.
9:42 p.m., Red Sox 3-1: The Red Sox suddenly have a chance to blow this thing wide open.
Boston smacked four straight singles against Neil Wagner in the seventh inning. Jeremy Jeffress will now take over with the bases loaded and one run already in.
There are still no outs, and Mike Napoli will be Jeffress’ first opponent.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 2-1: Stephen Drew didn’t let his sixth-inning error linger in his mind very long.
Drew made a sensational play to retire Ryan Goins in the seventh inning. In fact, it was a Jose Iglesias-esque play.
Goins hit a ball back up the middle that looked destined for center field, and Drew ranged over and made a sliding stop. In one motion, Drew flipped over and skipped an accurate throw to Mike Napoli to record the out.
Jon Lester capped the inning — and likely his night — by striking out Jose Reyes. Reyes was off balance on a number of swings, and Lester eventually caught him looking with a 3-2 slider on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.
Lester was fired up while walking off the mound. It’s now up to the Red Sox’ bullpen to lock down the game and the AL East crown.
End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled in the sixth inning, but the score stayed the same.
Saltalamacchia lifted a fly ball down the left field line with one out. Kevin Pillar gave chase over into the corner, but misplayed it. The ball actually traveled more than Pillar anticipated, and it got down near the warning track. It was a play that Pillar probably should have made.
Will Middlebrooks flied out for the second out, and the Blue Jays then made a pitching change. Aaron Loup took over for Chad Jenkins.
Loup retired Stephen Drew on a comebacker to the mound to end the inning.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Jon Lester turned it on after Stephen Drew made an error to begin the sixth inning.
Kevin Pillar drilled a line drive to Drew at short. The ball kicked off Drew’s glove and trickled into center field, allowing Pillar to reach.
Lester responded by striking out the next three hitters. Moises Sierra, Mark DeRosa and Anthony Gose all went down by way of the K.
Sierra and DeRosa went down swinging, and Gose went down looking. Gose actually put up a pretty good battle, but Lester froze him with a 3-2 cutter that tailed back over the plate.
End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Chad Jenkins enjoyed a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.
Daniel Nava started with a flyout to left field, and David Ortiz and Mike Napoli both put the ball on the ground to finish the inning.
Jenkins has kept the Red Sox scoreless since entering with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: The Red Sox are all too familiar with the damage that Rajai Davis can do on the bases.
Davis, who has been a thorn in Boston’s side all season, singled just past a diving Stephen Drew and into left field with two outs in the fifth inning. He then wreaked havoc.
Davis swiped second base, and then swiped third base one pitch later. Davis now has 44 stolen bases this season, and his two swipes in the fifth inning helped produce a run.
Brett Lawrie drilled a single into center field to plate Davis and cut Boston’s lead in half.
Lawrie tried to follow in Davis’ footsteps and get something going on the bases, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia delivered a strike to second base to throw him out on an attempted steal.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: John Farrell had a long discussion with second base umpire Eric Cooper at the conclusion of the fourth inning.
Wouldn’t that be something if Farrell got tossed on the night that the Red Sox could clinch the division?
Anywho, the conversation never escalated to that point. Farrell was upset about a call that squashed a threat in the fourth inning, though.
Stephen Drew walked with one out and Jackie Bradley Jr. shot a single into left field with the hit-and-run on. It was a perfectly placed single in that situation.
Dustin Pedroia then hit a ground ball to second base with two runners on. Ryan Goins charged in to field it and swung his glove to tag Bradley. The umpire ruled that Goins did, in fact, apply the tag, and the Blue Jays second baseman fired to first base to complete an inning-ending double play.
Farrell thought that Bradley avoided the tag, which prompted the conversation with Cooper.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox benefited from a very unorthodox double play in the fourth inning, and the Blue Jays came up empty handed despite loading the bases with no outs.
Jon Lester walked Kevin Pillar to open the frame. Pillar, of course, entered the game when Colby Rasmus took a ball off the face during warmups before the bottom of the first inning.
Moises Sierra followed Pillar’s walk with a ground ball to third base. The ball was hit rather softly, so Will Middlebrooks charged with aggression. The ball bounced off Middlebrooks’ glove and back toward home plate, though, and Sierra reached safely as Pillar took second.
Mark DeRosa ripped a line drive past a diving Middlebrooks to load the bases with nobody out.
Anthony Gose also drilled a sharply hit ball in Middlebrooks’ direction. This time, it was toward the line. Middlebrooks grabbed the chopper, stepped on third base for a forceout and fired home. Pillar got caught up in a rundown between third and home — as the Red Sox needed to tag him to complete the out — but he was eventually retired. The huge double play went 5-2-5-2, for all you scoring at home.
Lester ended the inning by striking out J.P. Arencibia, whose average continues to plummet below the Mendoza Line.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Chad Jenkins needed just two pitches to escape the jam without any further damage.
Jenkins, who took over for Esmil Rogers, got Jarrod Saltalamacchia to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
The Red Sox pushed across a run in the third inning, but they were certainly hoping for more out of that golden opportunity.
8:15 p.m., Red Sox 2-0: The Blue Jays’ season has been summed up in the first 2 1/3 innings.
Esmil Rogers, whose wild pitch gave Boston its first run of the game in the first inning, will exit after walking in a run in the third inning.
Daniel Nava started the third-inning madness with a double off the left field wall. Rogers then intentionally walked David Ortiz after falling behind, walked Mike Napoli and walked Mike Carp to give the Red Sox their second run.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will come up with the bases still loaded and one out. Chad Jenkins is the new Toronto pitcher.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Ryan Goins singled to lead off the third inning. That’s where the Blue Jays’ threat ended.
Jose Reyes hit a ground ball to second base that resulted in a forceout. Goins stopped in between first and second base to avoid a double play, and Dustin Pedroia fired to second for the inning’s first out.
Rajai Davis was retired on a sky-high pop up in the infield for the second out, and Brett Lawrie grounded to short to end the frame.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Esmil Rogers settled down for an efficient second inning.
Rogers, who walked two in the first inning, retired the Red Sox in order in the second.
Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew both struck out swinging for the first two outs. Rogers went with a slider in both instances to get them swinging.
Jose Reyes capped the inning with a very nice play. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a ground ball back up the middle. Reyes ranged over, made the play and delivered a strong, off-balance throw on the run.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Jon Lester worked through some trouble in the second inning.
Lester walked Moises Sierra with one down, and then faced a first-and-second situation when Mark DeRosa singled into center field.
Anthony Gose hit a ground ball that had the potential to be a double play. The Red Sox were only able to record the out at second base, though, and Sierra moved up to third base.
Lester escaped the jam by striking out J.P. Arencibia.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox have jumped out in front.
Dustin Pedroia led off the inning by extending his hit streak to 10 games. He planted a double off the Green Monster to kick things off.
Pedroia moved up to third base when Daniel Nava drilled a fly ball to deep right-center field. Pedey scored when Esmil Rogers fired a pitch in the dirt that got away from catcher J.P. Arencibia.
Rogers struggled with his control throughout the entire inning. He walked David Ortiz and Mike Napoli with one out before escaping the jam with just one run surrendered.
Mike Carp lined out to Jose Reyes at short and Jarrod Saltalamacchia smacked a single into center field. Ortiz aggressively tried to score from second base on Salty’s single, but Anthony Gose threw him out by a mile.
7:20 p.m., 0-0: There was a strange scene between innings.
Colby Rasmus took a ball off the face while running out to center field. The Blue Jays’ outfielders were warming up and Rasmus ran right into a throw.
Rasmus exited the game. Kevin Pillar has entered the contest and will play left field. Rajai Davis shifts from left to right, while Anthony Gose moves from right field to center field.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester’s night is off to a good start.
Lester enjoyed a quick 1-2-3 inning. He sat down Jose Reyes, Rajai Davis and Brett Lawrie in order.
Reyes led off with a fly ball to center field. Jackie Bradley Jr., who was a late addition to the lineup in place of Shane Victorino, made the play easily.
Lester struck out Davis for the second. The lefty then got Lawrie to hit a line drive to left field that hung up just long enough for Mike Carp to make the grab.
7:12 p.m.: Jose Reyes swung at Jon Lester’s first pitch and hammered it right at Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field. One pitch. One out.
6:59 p.m.: Jon Lester is also seeking his 100th major league win Friday. There’s obviously a much bigger story brewing, but Lester would become the 11th pitcher — third lefty — to win 100 games with the Red Sox.
Lester would join Joe Wood, Mel Parnell, Bob Stanley and Roger Clemens as the only players to collect their first 100 wins while with the Red Sox.
6:20 p.m.: John Farrell is just the seventh manager to lead the Red Sox to the postseason in his first year as skipper. He joins Jake Stahl (1912), Ed Barrow (1918), Dick Williams (1967), Joe Morgan (1988), Kevin Kennedy (1995) and Terry Francona (2004) — Stahl, Barrow and Francona won the World Series in their first year.
For more on Farrell’s excellent season, check out BostonFanFavorites.com.
5:56 p.m.: The Red Sox’ turnaround this season has been remarkable. The Red Sox enter Friday’s game with a 93-61 record after going 69-93 last season. Boston’s .426 winning percentage in 2012 marks that lowest winning percentage prior to a playoff season in franchise history.
This also marks the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox have made the playoffs the season after a last-place finish.
5:02 p.m.: John Farrell said Friday that Ryan Dempster will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
4:58 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury took part in baseball activities Friday for the first time since being diagnosed with a navicular bone fracture in his right foot. He threw and hit off a tee, which is an encouraging sign. There’s still no timetable for Ellsbury’s return.
4:45 p.m.: Shane Victorino was originally scheduled to be in the lineup Friday, but he was a late scratch. Victorino has been dealing with a jammed right thumb, although John Farrell said that he expects the outfielder to be fine.
Jackie Bradley Jr. will take Victorino’s spot in center field. Bradley, who had two hits in Thursday’s win, will bat ninth.
Mike Carp will start in left field for the second straight game. He’ll bat fifth once again, as Daniel Nava will bat second and man right field.
Friday’s complete lineups are below.
Red Sox (93-61)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Daniel Nava, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Jon Lester, LHP (14-8, 3.75 ERA)
Blue Jays (70-82)
Jose Reyes, SS
Rajai Davis, LF
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Colby Rasmus, CF
Moises Sierra, DH
Mark DeRosa, 1B
Anthony Gose, RF
J.P. Arencibia, C
Ryan Goins, 2B
Esmil Rogers, RHP (5-7, 4.47 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox are officially in.
Boston clinched its first playoff berth since 2009 on Thursday as John Lackey tossed a complete-game gem against the Orioles. The Red Sox can now clinch the AL East crown with a win or a Rays loss. (Tampa Bay lost to Texas on Thursday.)
Lackey was fantastic Thursday. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and went the distance in what was a very fitting way to clinch a playoff spot. Lackey stumbled through two poor seasons with Boston before missing all of 2012 because of Tommy John surgery, and the Red Sox collapsed in September 2011 before putting together an awful 69-93 campaign in 2012. Thursday’s win really embodied Boston’s amazing turnaround this season.
Jon Lester will look to lock up the AL East on Friday as the Red Sox welcome the Blue Jays to Boston. Lester can also help solidify his status as Boston’s Game 1 playoff starter with a strong showing.
Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Be sure to tune in on NESN, and keep it right here with NESN.com’s live blog.
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