In the final week of the season, the Boston Red Sox have had their ups and downs. After losing two out of three against the Toronto Blue Jays, a team who the Red Sox were 12-4 against before the series, their magic number to clinch the American League East over the New York Yankees sits at two as both teams enter their final four games of the season.
Where the Red Sox stand now
After AL Cy Young candidate Chris Sale gave up four home runs on Tuesday, the Red Sox righted the ship yesterday by salvaging a 10-7 win over the Blue Jays. Rick Porcello started nervously by giving up three runs in the first. He eventually settled down and finished after 5.2 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits (including two home runs) and two walks. He also struck out eight batters, marking only the fourth time this season he has struck out 8 or more hitters.
Meanwhile, the offense did most of its damage in a three-run second and a five-run third. Christian Vazquez led off the third with a walk, and Rajai Davis doubled to put runners on second and third. Vazquez scored on a Jackie Bradley Jr. groundout while Davis scored on a single from Xander Bogaerts, who would later score from first after Dustin Pedroia hit a chopper through the right side while Bogaerts attempted to steal second. Hanley Ramirez led off the fifth with a home run to the left while Bogaerts crushed a three-run blast later in the inning.
Tonight, they start a four-game set against the Houston Astros. The Red Sox will send Eduardo Rodriguez (FIP: 3.87, xFIP: 4.23, SIERA: 4.01) to the mound who will duel with Brad Peacock (FIP: 2.97, xFIP: 3.63, SIERA: 3.71). Rodriguez threw seven scoreless innings in Cincinnati during his last start. Peacock has yet to face Boston this season.
The road ahead
While the Red Sox control their destiny, several factors make clinching the division difficult. For starters, the Astros are one of the best teams in baseball and are still playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cleveland Indians hold only a one-game lead over the Astros, meaning the Red Sox will face a motivated World Series contender to close out the season.
As for the Yankees, they have one game left in their series with the Tampa Bay Rays, after which they have a three-game series against the Blue Jays. While the Blue Jays showed fight against the Red Sox, they may not have the same intensity against New York.
Despite all these factors going against them, the Red Sox still have a whopping 97.0% chance to win the division, according to FanGraphs. But the Red Sox have to play their best baseball when it matters most.
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