Friday, December 13, 2013
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox clinched the AL East title on Friday night, getting seven strong innings from Jon Lester to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 and eliminate Tampa Bay from the division race.
Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara, right, is congratulated by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia after striking out Toronto Blue Jays' J.P. Arencibia to end the top of the eighth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Friday in Boston.
One night after securing their first playoff appearance since 2009, the Red Sox added their first division title since ‘07. Boston entered the night with a magic number of one — meaning the next Red Sox win or Rays loss would clinch the division.
Lester (15-8) allowed one run on five hits and two walks, striking out eight to win for the seventh time in nine decisions. It was his 100th career victory.
Toronto pinch-hitter Adam Lind hit a two-run homer off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth to make it 5-3 before Koji Uehara got five outs for his 20th save. With the crowd standing for most of the final inning, he struck out Brett Lawrie to end the game and the Red Sox poured out of the dugout and bullpen.
Dustin Pedroia had three hits for the Red Sox, who have won 19 of their last 25.
Toronto starter Esmil Rogers (5-8) did not make it out of the third inning, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks and striking out two while getting only seven outs.
The Red Sox took the lead early when Pedroia doubled to lead off the first inning, went to third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch. Boston had runners on first and second with nobody out but Mike Carp lined out to the shortstop and David Ortiz was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from second on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single.
Daniel Nava doubled to lead off the third inning and, after intentionally walking Ortiz, Rogers walked two more to make it 2-0. Chad Jenkins came in and got Saltalamacchia to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Toronto loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth on a walk, an error by third baseman Will Middlebrooks and a single. But Middlebrooks fielded Anthony Gose’s chopper, stepped on third and threw home to get Kevin Pillar in a rundown for a double play. Lester struck out J.P. Arencibia to end the inning.
Rajai Davis singled, stole second and third and scored on Lawrie’s single to make it 2-1 in the fifth. But Neil Wagner gave up four straight singles to start the seventh, including an RBI single by Ortiz to make it 3-1.
Jeremy Jeffress came in and got Mike Napoli to ground into a shortstop-to-home-to-first double play. But Mike Carp hit a line drive to left-center that made it 5-1. After Lind made it 5-3, Pedroia added an RBI single in the eighth.
NOTES: Lester is the 11th pitcher in Red Sox history to record 100 victories, and just the third left-hander. ... Toronto CF Colby Rasmus was beaned by a warmup throw before the bottom of the first inning. He was replaced in the lineup by Pillar. ... John Farrell is the seventh manager to lead the Red Sox to the playoffs in his first year on the job. The last was Terry Francona in 2004. ... The Red Sox announced before the game that tickets for AL divisional playoffs to be played in Boston will go on sale Tuesday. ... The Yankees’ win over San Francisco on Friday ensured that the last-place Blue Jays will be the only team in the AL East to finish the season with a losing record.