BOSTON -- Fittingly, the win that officially propelled the Red Sox into the postseason had more of the late-game heroics that have been on display all season.It was Brock Holt who came up with the big hit this time, a pinch-hit, three-run home run to right field with two outs
BOSTON -- Fittingly, the win that officially propelled the Red Sox into the postseason had more of the late-game heroics that have been on display all season.
It was Brock Holt who came up with the big hit this time, a pinch-hit, three-run home run to right field with two outs in the seventh that led the Sox to a 7-2 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
At 99-46, the Red Sox are assured of no worse than playing in the American League Wild Card Game on Oct. 3. However, it is far more likely Boston will emerge as the AL East champions for the third straight season and open the AL Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5. With 17 games remaining, the Red Sox have a magic number of nine to clinch the division after the Yankees lost to the Twins, 10-5.
The Red Sox became the first team in the Majors to clinch a postseason berth this season.
"We've got a shot now," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We're in, we have the elimination game now. We know we're in a great position to win the division and to accomplish other things. Credit to them."
• Headed for postseason, Sox have lofty goals
This wasn't a night to cover the lockers with plastic type, but Cora led the group with a toast after the game.
"I just told the group I'm very proud of them regardless of what's going on around us, the winning streaks, the losing streaks, we stay together," Cora said. "They've been very consistent as far as showing up every day and preparing for the game and playing the game, and I'm very proud of that."
After being shut down by Blue Jays starter Ryan Borucki through six innings and trailing, 2-0, Steve Pearce ignited the Red Sox with a one-out RBI triple to center field in the seventh. Then, when Eduardo Nunez came to the plate, Mitch Moreland was in the on-deck circle, and it appeared he would hit for Sandy Leon.
But after Nunez drew a walk, Cora did something unusual when he called Moreland back to the dugout. Holt then emerged to pinch-hit, and he belted a 93.1-mph sinker from Dennis Tepera a projected distance of 388 feet, according to Statcast™, into the first row of the grandstands in right.
"The game sped up on me at that point," Cora said. "I looked to the bullpen and they had a lefty. I wasn't going to hit for Mitch in the lefty-lefty matchup I didn't like there. So it went to Brock, they stayed with the righty, and it paid off."
Holt was elated to come through in that spot.
"We try and stay ready the best we can down in the batting cage throughout the game," Holt said. "Mitch was on deck there and figured he would hit, but we made a change and I did my best to stay ready and was able to do something good for the team. Any time you can help out, it's a good night. So that was pretty fun for me."
Though Holt only has four homers this season, two of them have been go-ahead blasts coming off the bench. Holt also lifted Boston to a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Aug. 14, when he hit a pinch-hit solo home run.
"I guess I would rather be in there from the start than to come in and pinch-hit. If I keep hitting homers, I'll take it," Holt said. "We're having fun. Tonight was pretty fun."
It became more fun when Boston broke it open with three more runs in the eighth.
Red Sox ace Chris Sale came off the disabled list and served as the "opener" in this one, tossing a scoreless inning that included two strikeouts. The original plan was for Sale to go two innings with a maximum of 40 pitches. But after the left-hander threw 26 in the first, Cora took him out and had him throw the rest of his pitches in the bullpen.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Pearce opens scoring: Much like Holt, Steve Pearce is a role player who has had a flair for the dramatic this season. It was Pearce who got the Sox out of their early slumber when he smashed an RBI triple off the center-field wall to cut the Jays' lead to 2-1 in the seventh. Kevin Pillar smashed into the wall in pursuit, but he couldn't get there in time.
"[Borucki] was mixing up his pitches up a lot, so I was finally able to get something over the middle of the plate and put a charge into it," Pearce said. "We were able to perk up and get the comeback we needed."
This was the 10th win of the season for the Red Sox when trailing after six innings.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
When an outfielder turns in two different directions while chasing the same fly ball, it generally doesn't lead to good things. But Andrew Benintendi made a terrific recovery when he did so in the ninth, banging into the Green Monster to make a highlight-reel catch against for the second out of the inning. More >
HE SAID IT
"I knew today was going to be an abbreviated start, I knew three [innings] was best-case scenario. Even if I threw five pitches in each inning, I knew I was only going to go out there for three, so knowing that going in makes it a little bit easier. But obviously only going out there for one inning kind of sucked. I had higher hopes than that, but at the end of the day, it is what it is." -- Sale, on his return from the DL
The Red Sox will go after their 100th win on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. ET, a milestone they haven't reached since 1946. David Price (14-6, 3.57 ERA) who has been Boston's best starter down the stretch, will get the start against a Toronto team he has owned in his career. In 29 career games (28 starts) against Toronto, Price is 20-3 with a 2.52 ERA. The left-hander has faced the Jays three times this season, going 3-0 with a 3.71 ERA. The Jays counter with righty Aaron Sanchez (4-5, 5.17).
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.