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Red Sox secure home field throughout playoffs

Oakland loss allows Boston to clinch best record in American League

BALTIMORE -- Moments after they started Saturday night's game against the Orioles, the Red Sox clinched the best record in the American League, meaning they will have home-field advantage for every postseason series they play.

Home-field advantage officially went to Boston once the Athletics lost to the Mariners in Seattle on Saturday.

"I think everyone was well aware of it early in that ballgame, what that final score was out in Seattle," manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox lost, 6-5, to the Orioles. "I think it's a tribute to the guys in uniform, the way they've come in every day to put ourselves in the position to secure home-field advantage.

"We would have liked this game to finish up a little bit differently, but to know going into the postseason that for every series we go into with that home-field advantage, being able to play in front of the Fenway fans and how comfortable and successful we've been at home, that's a good thing."

What this means in the AL Division Series is that the Sox will open at home on Friday against the winner of Wednesday's game between the two AL Wild Card teams.

"It helps us out a ton, especially with the Wild Card scenario," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "You don't know who you're going to play. Those guys are going to use more pitchers, play more games, things like that. We can get guys some rest. If guys have nagging injuries, something like that, they can try to heal them up and be healthy for the rest of the way."

The Red Sox will face the Indians, Rays or Rangers in the best-of-five series.

At the conclusion of Saturday afternoon's action, the Indians led the AL Wild Card standings with a 91-70 record. The Rays and Rangers were tied for the second spot, one game back.

If Texas and Tampa Bay finish tied, they would have a one-game playoff on Monday to determine which team plays the Indians on Wednesday.

If all three teams tie, the Indians would host the Rays on Monday. The loser of that game would travel to Texas. The winner of the game in Texas would play the winner of Monday's Rays-Indians game to determine which team plays the Red Sox in the ALDS.

"That's a pretty big accomplishment for our team," Pedroia said. "There's a lot of great teams. We've got the best record. It sets us up nicely. We've still got to go out and play well, obviously. It doesn't matter where you're playing. But it helps us that we get to hit last."

The Sox obviously have the most familiarity with the Rays, a team they played well against this season, going 12-7.

They went 6-1 against manager Terry Francona's Indians, but those games were all played in the first two months of the season. Cleveland has surged of late.

Texas gave Boston a hard time this season, taking four of the six matchups. However, the Sox haven't faced the Rangers since June 4-6.

Thanks to the AL winning the All-Star Game back in July, the Red Sox would also have home-field advantage in the World Series.

In 2007, the Red Sox set themselves up the same way -- with home field in all three rounds, and they won the World Series.

"That's what we wanted," said Pedroia. "That's why you play. It's a huge advantage. From 2007, you get the last couple games in the ALCS at home, that helps. Then the next year, we had to go to Tropicana [Field in St. Petersburg] to play, it's a big difference."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.
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