BOSTON -- The Red Sox alleviated some of the tension that had engulfed Fenway Park the previous two nights and moved the magic number down to two for clinching the American League East with a 10-7 win over the Blue Jays in Wednesday's finale of a three-game series.This sets up
BOSTON -- The Red Sox alleviated some of the tension that had engulfed Fenway Park the previous two nights and moved the magic number down to two for clinching the American League East with a 10-7 win over the Blue Jays in Wednesday's finale of a three-game series.
This sets up a potential clinch party at Fenway on Thursday if Boston can win the opener of a four-game series against the Astros and the Yankees lose the finale of a three-game series to the Rays With four games left in the regular season, Boston leads New York by three games.
"Another step," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Tonight is another step towards a main goal, but nothing is taken for granted."
The Boston bats broke out with a 13-hit performance in this one. Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts both hit towering drives that soared over the everything in left to spark a five-run rally in the third. Mitch Moreland belted his 21st homer of the season down the line in right in the seventh.
Bogaerts keyed the offense with a three-hit night that included four RBIs and an impressive dash home from first on a hit-and-run single by Dustin Pedroia.
"I'm feeling pretty good, I'm seeing the ball real well," said Bogaerts. "I was feeling good a few weeks back, and it's all the work I'm putting in right now."
Rick Porcello gave up three runs in the first, but Boston quickly surged back with one in the first and three in the second against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada before taking control of the game in that bottom of the third. In his last start of the regular season, Porcello (11-17, 4.65 ERA) allowed seven hits and five runs over 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out eight. Farrell hasn't revealed his postseason rotation plans yet.
"I expect to do whatever John tells me to do. It's not my call," said Porcello.
David Price turned in a strong performance in relief, retiring all four batters he faced and striking out three of them.
Estrada came into this one with a 1.04 ERA in three starts against the Sox this season, but that trend changed dramatically as the righty was tagged for nine hits and eight runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings.
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Josh Donaldson capped a monster series with the Jays by going 2-for-5 with two runs. Jose Bautista and Darwin Barney went deep for the 37th and 38th homers against Porcello this season.
"Nice home run by Jose and then Teoscar [Hernandez], shoot, he hit another one tonight," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said in reference to Hernandez's six homers in his last six games. "We hung in there, we scored some runs, we just couldn't stop them. They got the big home run by Bogaerts. Maybe we keep it a little bit closer and it can go the other way, but they opened it up there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Price's bullpen heat: When Farrell went to Price with two outs and nobody on in the sixth, the lefty came out throwing heat in his third relief appearance since being activated off the disabled list. Facing Ryan Goins, Price threw five straight fastballs that ranged between 95.5 and 97.2 mph. The at-bat ended with Goins tapping a 96.1-mph heater back to the box. For Price to come on in mid-inning and throw that hard from the outset could bode well for what he can offer the Red Sox as a reliever in the postseason. Price went to his pitch mix a little more in the seventh and struck out the side.
"I think it's a great move for him," Gibbons said of Price moving to the 'pen. "I think he'll be a weapon for them out there. He looked really good tonight. He came in, inning and a third, punched out the side in the second inning. Yeah, Dave's going to help them. He's a guy you always root for. He did a lot for us and I love the guy. It's good to see that he's back out there and I think he's going to be huge for them in the playoffs." More >
Hanley's mammoth blast: It has been a disjointed season for Ramirez, who has battled injuries and consistency. But when Ramirez unloaded for his first homer since Sept. 1, he looked like he might be able to get hot heading down the stretch. According to Statcast™, the mammoth solo shot that went over everything and gave the Red Sox a 5-4 lead left the bat at an exit velocity of 108.9 mph, had a launch angle of 35 degrees and traveled a projected distance of 451 feet.
"I've said it many times, we're a different team with his presence in the middle of the order," Farrell said. "There's history there. There's extra-base capability. A proven big league hitter. It's good to see him with the two base hits, two extra-base hits here tonight. That's a big boost."
"If we're looking at the Yankees, I don't think we're focusing on our game. We've got to focus on ours. If we win, it's even much better, then we can worry about them after the game, but winning for us is the most important thing right now and we've got to continue that tomorrow." -- Bogaerts
"Not that important at all. We're trying to win games. That's it. Trying to contribute. And I never go out there just to rack up personal stats. That's not who I am." -- Bautista, on hitting home run No. 23 and moving into second place on the club's all-time runs scored list
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Red Sox have come back from deficits of three runs or more in the five of their last nine wins since Sept. 15.
The Blue Jays hit 10 home runs in this series, which is their highest total in a three-game set since hitting 11 from Aug. 28-30, 2015, vs. Detroit.
Hernandez's home run was his eighth since being called up on Sept. 1. That's the most hit by a Blue Jays rookie in the month.
In the bottom of the second, Pedroia executed a hit-and-run perfectly on a 2-2 pitch and rolled a single through the vacated hole and into right field. Bogaerts reminded everyone that he is one of the fastest runners on the Red Sox when he motored all the away around from first on the single and dove in head-first after an aggressive send by third-base coach Brian Butterfield. Bogaerts was initially ruled out, but after a review of one minute and 16 seconds, the call was overturned and the Red Sox had their first lead of the night at 4-3.
"He makes a heck of a slide," said Farrell. "That was a tremendous send by Butter -- and it was the aggressive nature of the baserunning. It was a slow roller. If Bautista picks up that ball, it might be a different decision, but the fact that [Kevin] Pillar, we feel like he's a heck of a center fielder, but we might be able to take advantage of some arm strength when they're moving side to side. So a great slide, good send, we catch a break there."
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays will enjoy their final off-day before the end of the season on Thursday and then they'll open a three-game series vs. the Yankees on Friday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Joe Biagini (3-12, 5.34 ERA) will get the call in the series opener. He faced New York during his previous outing as well and allowed three earned runs over five innings. First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Red Sox: Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who has a 1.78 ERA ERA in four September starts, gets the nod in Thursday's opener of a four-game series against the Astros. It will be an intriguing series considering the Astros are trying to win the No. 1 seed in the AL for the postseason and the Red Sox are trying to pin down the AL East title. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.