For the Boston Red Sox, it’s not a case of if, but when with regards to making the playoffs.
The reigning World Series champions moved a step closer to their fifth playoff appearance in six years with a 3-0 victory at Toronto on Sunday. Daisuke Matsuzaka picked up his 18th victory, and the Red Sox (91-64) remained 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East race.
Despite the win, the mood toward waiting for the outcome of Sunday night’s game between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles - eventually won by the Yankees - to see if the Red Sox clinched a spot in the postseason leaned towards indifference. That isn’t surprising given a veteran-laden team that knows October baseball is more important than September.
“We don’t take anything for granted, we never have,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We played a pretty good game today. We’ll show up tomorrow and, if we play good and do all our stuff, those magic numbers will take care of themselves.”
Slugger David Ortiz admitted a preference to clinching at home, saying, “The best way to celebrate is by (messing) up your clubhouse. I’m not going to be popping champagne at my house.”
Red Sox starter Josh Beckett (12-9, 3.96) has a 0.95 ERA in three starts since coming off the disabled list, but has only one win in that span. The right-hander turned in his best outing of the three Tuesday at Tampa, where he limited the Rays to one run and three hits in eight innings, but did not get a decision in Boston’s 2-1 loss.
Still, Beckett lamented his one mistake of the game, a game-tying homer by Carlos Pena in the seventh.
“It’s amazing how one pitch can change the complexion of the game,” he said.
Beckett has not faced the Indians this year, and is 1-3 with a 6.57 ERA in four lifetime starts against them.
Cleveland (78-77) completed a three-game sweep of Detroit with a 10-5 victory Sunday and moved over. 500 for the first time since May 17, when it held a 22-21 record. Ryan Garko went 4-for-4 with five RBIs for the Indians, who are 41-24 since July 9.
“To get back to .500 is nice,” Garko said. “But I’d much rather be talking about the playoffs.”
Zach Jackson (0-3, 6.48) is coming off his worst outing of the year for the Indians. He was tagged for season highs of seven runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings by Minnesota on Tuesday as he failed to protect a seven-run lead, but did not get a decision in Cleveland’s 12-9, 11-inning victory.
The left-hander has not won since pitching for Milwaukee in 2006, and he pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox on May 18 in his only career appearance against them.