With their postseason berth already secured on Thursday, the Boston Red Sox turned right around and clinched the AL East division title on Friday night, officially locking themselves into the ALDS round, with a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Understandably, the Red Sox went for a more subdued celebration on Thursday as they had bigger fish to fry in the days ahead. But the champagne bottles were popped on Friday as the team reveled in the completion of their worst-to-first journey in the AL East. It's the first division championship for Boston since 2007, and will mark their first appearance in the ALDS since 2009. A considerable drought given Boston's success over the past 18 seasons.
Left-hander Jon Lester did most of the heavy lifting in the clinching victory, throwing seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed only five hits while striking out eight and lowering his post all-star break ERA to 2,28. Sensational closer Koji Uehera picked up a five-out save after set up man Junichi Tazawa struggled to get through the eighth.
Offensively, Mike Carp was the main source of production going 1-for-3 with a two-run single and bases loaded walk. Dustin Pedroia chipped in with three hits while Daniel Nava, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jackie Bradley Jr. each contributed two.
Obviously there's a lot to feel good about in Boston and the party probably won't end until the wee hours of the morning. Based on this picture of Jonny Gomes, we wish we were there with them.
You either love him or you love him!! Jonny Gomes! pic.twitter.com/O7GIluCy08
— #GetBeard 2013 Sox (@LindaG516) September 21, 2013
That said, there's still some work to be done over the final nine days. The Red Sox currently own a three game advantage over the Oakland A's for the best record in the AL at 94-61. Home field advantage in baseball isn't as essential as other sports, particularly in the postseason, but it's a nice edge to have when a series extends to a deciding fifth or seventh game.