The Red Sox punched their ticket to the postseason for a third straight year with another thrilling, come-from-behind win.
Tuesday’s 7-2 over the Blue Jays win assured Boston of at least a wild card spot in the postseason, though naturally their eyes are on a much bigger prize, the American League East division crown. As the division winners the Sox would enjoy significant advantages as the 2018 postseason plays out.
“We’ve talked about October since the start of Spring Training,” game starter Chris Sale said after the game. “We’ve all been pulling from the same side of the rope…this is the first step in the right direction.”
Sale was activated Tuesday from the DL after experiencing mild left shoulder inflammation following his August 12th start at Baltimore. For his return to the mound Manager Alex Cora had a set pitch count in mind before the game with a maximum of 2.0 IP. When Sale used 26 pitches to get through the first inning, Cora said he made the decision to end Sale’s night and turn the game over to the bullpen. During the second inning Sale could be seen throwing the remaining pitches of his limit in the bullpen. “At the end of day, you’ve got to swallow your pride and get your work in,” Sale said of his bullpen work. “Got to do what you got to do sometimes.”
Late Inning Eruption
Blue Jays rookie Ryan Borucki kept the Sox at bay in 6.1 solid innings of work. When Toronto broke an 0-0 tie with two runs in the top of the sixth inning, Boston answered back with two against Boruki in the bottom of the seventh. The Jays relievers, Ryan Tepera and Jake Petricka then allowed five more Red Sox runs.
The highlight of the offense was Brock Holt‘s pinch-hit, two strike, go-ahead home run in the seventh, the first such home run since Jonny Gomes belted one on July 18, 2014. Holt’s was just the 10th such home run for the Red Sox since 1990, the most in the American League in that time.
The Red Sox have now scored an American League-best 102 runs just in the seventh inning, their most scored in any inning but the fifth (118) in 2018. No major league team has more runs scored between the seventh and ninth inning of games this season than the Red Sox (239).
For all the hand wringing lately about the Sox bullpen last night’s game came a literal relief. Seven relievers emerged from the Boston pen for what would be 8.0 IP. Save for Nathan Eovaldi, who allowed two runs on three hits, the remaining crew of Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Hector Velazquez, Bobby Poyner collectively allowed one hit, one walk, and recorded nine strikeouts.
The 2018 Red Sox are just the fifth team in franchise history to reach 99+ wins (also 1912, 1915, 1946 and 1978). The franchise record for wins is 105 set in Fenway Park’s first season of 1912.
With the Yankees loss to the Twins on Tuesday, Boston now leads the American League East by 9.0 games with a magic number of nine to clinch the division.