AL Wild Card: Red Sox, Rays tied going into final game

Matthew Bacon
Journal Staff

It’s no secret that Boston’s beloved Red Sox have put the entire city into panic mode. The month of September has destroyed the nine-game lead they once had in the wild card race, and now going into their last regular season game, they are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the top spot in the American League Wild Card.
The Red Sox are 6-19 this month and play their last game against the Baltimore Orioles tonight, with Jon Lester on the mound for the Sox and Alfred Simon pitching for the Orioles. The team has not won two consecutive games since sweeping a doubleheader from Oakland on August 27.
Here’s what it comes down to tonight: If the Red Sox win and the Rays lose then the Sox are in the playoffs. If the Rays win and the Red Sox lose then the Rays continue playing into October. If both teams win then there will be a one-game playoff this Thursday in Tampa Bay since they hold the better record against Boston this year.
Boston fans everywhere are worried, and some fans are stating that the Yankees may intentionally lose against the Rays tonight just to keep Boston out of the playoffs.
Despite the fact that most of us have been panicking for the better part of September, it is time to calm down and realize that the Red Sox are more than capable of pulling off this game and making the post-season. Boston holds a 10-7 record against the Orioles this year, one of the worst teams in baseball.
Boston has proved time and time again that when they have something to play for, they will play their hearts out until the very end.  Hope was restored this past Sunday night as Jacoby Ellsbury smashed his 31st homer of the season during the 14th inning to beat the Yankees 7-4.  The game was highlighted by clutch performances from Ellsbury, closer Jonathan Papelbon, Franklin Morales, and Dustin Pedrioa.
Pedrioa’s game was especially hard fought, defined by his gutsy slide into first base and his clutch catch off of Curtis Granderson’s bouncing ground ball in the bottom of the 13th.
Even J.D. Drew, playing in his first game since July, had an RBI single.  I believe Sunday night’s game against the Yankees was a statement that no matter what, the Red Sox will fight until the very end, and as their latest advertising campaign states, “They won’t rest” until they and the fans are satisfied.
But for now, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the surefire intensity that will come with this last regular season game against the Orioles.

Terry Francona

Red Sox skipper Terry Francona (above) is hoping to see his team get into the playoffs.

Pin It