The Boston Red Sox will need another day for a chance to clinch a playoff berth, but doing it themselves might not be easy.
The Red Sox try to prevent Cleveland’s Cliff Lee from recording his 23rd win while hoping to secure a spot in the postseason one way or another as they continue their home series with the Indians on Tuesday night.
Boston (91-65) had the chance to clinch a spot in the AL playoffs Monday alongside Los Angeles and Tampa Bay, but fell 4-3 to the Indians (79-77), who have won seven in a row. A victory Tuesday or a loss by the New York Yankees at Toronto, would eliminate the Yankees and send the Red Sox back to the postseason for the fifth time in six years as they look for a second straight World Series title.
“We’re just trying to win games,” said Monday’s losing pitcher Josh Beckett.
The Red Sox, who trail the Rays by 2 1/2 in the AL East but own a comfortable lead in the wild-card race, now must deal with Lee (22-2, 2.41 ERA), who looks to become baseball’s first 23-game winner since Barry Zito went 23-5 for Oakland in 2002.
Lee allowed three earned runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings, but didn’t factor in the decision of a 6-4 win over Minnesota on Wednesday after winning his previous eight starts. Lee is still 11-0 with a 2.40 ERA in his last 13 starts since losing to the Twins on July 6.
“I went about as deep as I could,” Lee said of his most recent outing. “They made me work.”
The left-hander is 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA in seven starts against Boston, which had 12 hits but stranded 12 runners Monday.
“Tons of opportunities,” Boston left fielder Jason Bay said. “For some reason, it seemed like it wasn’t going to go for us.”
Ortiz has five homers and 11 RBIs in his last seven games, but is 3-for-14 with no home runs or RBIs lifetime versus Lee.
Boston sends Tim Wakefield (9-11, 4.18) to the mound after he allowed six runs and six hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 10-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Wednesday for his third defeat in four games.
“It is what it is,” Wakefield told Boston’s official Web site. “Our offense scored two runs in the first and I gave up the lead. It’s one of those weird things. I just didn’t make the right pitches at the right time.”
The right-handed knuckleballer, who looks to join Roger Clemens as the only pitchers with 10 or more wins in 10 different seasons with Boston, is 9-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 19 starts against Cleveland.
“We’ve been keeping the focus on ourselves,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, whose club is 38-24 since the All-Star break.
Cabrera is 6-for-11 with four RBIs over his last four games.