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Break out the bottles, because it actually happened. From worst to first, the Boston Red Sox are the 2013 American League East Champions.
One year after finishing with the worst record in the AL East (69-93, the worst franchise record since 1965), the Red Sox (94-61) are now the darlings atop the division. Even more remarkable, the team also owns the best record in the AL and MLB, in line for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
After clinching a playoff spot on Thursday night by avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox lowered their magic number to 1 game to win the AL East. Starting a series against John Farrell’s former team, the Toronto Blue Jays, on Friday night, Boston wasted no time, jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and never turning back en route to a 6-3 win to crown themselves division champions.
Dustin Pedroia stayed hot atop the lineup as the injured Jacoby Ellsbury’s (hopefully temporary) replacement, bookending the Red Sox’ scoring for the night by scoring the first run on a wild pitch and driving in the team’s last run with an eighth inning single. Mike Carp paced the Red Sox offense with three RBIs, including a bases-loaded walk in the 3rd and an RBI single to tack on two more runs after David Ortiz’s run-scoring single in the 7th.
One night after John Lackey took a no-hitter into the 7th inning on his way to a two-hit, complete game shutout, Jon Lester also turned in a strong performance: 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 8 strikeouts, and just 2 walks. Junichi Tazawa coughed up a two-run pinch-hit home run to Adam Lind in the 8th, but Koji Uehara came in to record five outs and his 20th save of the season.
The Red Sox will now look to hold on to the best record in the AL and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs (which,if they got that far KNOCK ON WOOD, would include the World Series thanks to the AL’s 3-0 victory in the All-Star Game).
Boston opens their improbable playoff run by hosting Game 1 of the ALDS at Fenway Park on Tuesday, October 4.