Let the clock-watching, the countdown or however you want to refer to it begin!
October is closing in fast, and that means the 2nd Season.
• Red Sox record: 87-58
• Games left: 17
• Lead in AL East: 7½ games over Tampa Bay (78-64)
• Magic number to win division: 12
• What does magic number mean? If Tampa Bay wins all 20 of its remaining games, Boston would have to win 12 to win the division.
• How to calculate magic number: You calculate your magic number by looking at the number of games remaining in the season and assuming that your nearest competitor will win all of their remaining games. Then you see how many games you still need to win to ensure the division title even with your nearest competitor winning all of their remaining games.
• Overall ranking in league (important for determining home field in playoffs): First, 3 games ahead of Oakland, 4 games ahead of Detroit
• If season ended today, teams in playoffs: Sox, Tigers, Athletics, Rangers, Rays.
• What about the Yankees? Salvaged the final game of a four-game series against the Red Sox with a 4-3 win. They remain 2½ games behind the Rays for final wild-card spot.
• Who’s hot?: Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks has five straight multi-hit games, the first time in his career he’s done that. He’s batting .500 (11 for 22) in that stretch, with 4 home runs, 8 runs, and 7 RBIs.
• Who’s not?: The Indians fell two games behind the Rays in the wild-card race when they were beaten, 2-1, by Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was agonizing for Terry Francona to watch in his last years in Boston and really tormented him Sunday. Matsuzaka, who had begun the season with the Indians, had lost his first three starts for the Mets, posting a 10.95 ERA. Against the Indians, he allowed one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three on 103 pitches.
• Red Sox latest outcome: Lost to the Yankees, 4-3, on Sunday.
• Rays latest outcome: Beat the Mariners, 4-1, on Sunday.
• Notable: The Yankees, who don’t expect to have shortstop Derek Jeter for at least a couple of days as his bad ankle flared up again, begin a four-game series Monday night with the Orioles, who are two games behind the Rays in the wild-card race. CC Sabathia faces Chris Tillman in the series opener Monday night. The Yanks then come to Boston on Friday, so this week will be critical to their fading wild-card chances.
• Playoff format: AL wild-card play-in game on Wednesday, Oct. 2. AL best-of-five division series begins Friday, Oct. 4.