Red Sox clinch playoff berth, AL East title still to come

Mike Oz

It had neither the drama nor the controversy of the Los Angeles Dodgers clinching the NL West earlier in the day, but the Boston Red Sox locked up a playoff berth on Thursday, beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-1. The AL East crown — while certainly going to the Red Sox and their 8 1/2-game division lead — will come later. Their magic number is two.

While the Dodgers needed a late-inning homer to win and followed that with a celebration in the pool of their division rival, the Red Sox were quite the opposite. They scored three runs in the second inning on a Stephen Drew homer and a Dustin Pedroia single and never looked back. John Lackey pitched a two-hit complete game for Boston.

Afterward? No cannonballs. Just the typical hand-slapping, hugging and congratulations in front of the home crowd.

Here's another thing that's similar about the Dodgers and Red Sox: They both know last place and first feel. The Red Sox, in a mess of a season last year, finished 69-93, the same record as the Miami Marlins, and last place in the AL East for the first time since 1992.

The Red Sox, however, got their house in order for 2013, traded for a new manager in John Farrell, got a nice season from offseason acquisition Mike Napoli, had fewer injuries and benefited from rebound seasons by Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. These 2013 Red Sox have been in first place all but 18 days this season, including from July 31 until today. They're now 93-61, the best record in baseball.

Enjoy this Yahoo video about how the Red Sox turned things around:

Oh, and here's a puzzle. Because who doesn't like puzzles.

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