5-1 is always a good week. 5-1 against division competition, half of it on the road, in September, to put the division away, including a three-game sweep of the Yankees that eliminates them from the division race, is a great week...
The Red Sox are not yet mathematically guaranteed a post-season berth, though the odds of them not making it are vanishingly small. They are guaranteed, however to finish no worse than 2nd in the East, as they've eliminated the Yankees, and the Orioles and Rays cannot both get to 92 wins. One or the other could, but not both, as they've got four head-to-head remaining. They will have mathematically clinched when they eliminate Texas (magic number = 4) or Cleveland (magic number = 3). With Texas in Tampa for the next four days, and Baltimore in Boston from Tuesday-Thursday, they are likely to have clinched a playoff berth before the weekend, and to have clinched the East before next Monday.
Red Sox Player of the Week - On a per-plate appearance basis, the best two weeks were had by Mike Napoli (.333/.524/.667/1.190, 5.22 runs created, 13.06 RC/25 outs) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.333/.400/.917/1.317, 4.58 runs created, 12.71 RC/25 outs). But due to playing time and lineup position, the most productivity came from Daniel Nava (.500/.476/.600/1.076, 5.25 runs created, 10.09 RC/25 outs). Any of them would be worthy, and I'm going to go with Daniel Nava.
Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - He's back, almost as if he never went away. Two starts, two wins, 11 innings and only one un-earned run for Clay Buchholz.
- What a difference a year makes. On September 15, 2012, the Red Sox beat Toronto 3-2, raising their record to 66-80, 16 1/2 games behind the first place Yankees. On September 15, 2013, the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees, finished taking 6-of-7 from the Yankees in September, and eliminated the Yankees from contention in the AL East.
- They don't really need any help in the division race at this point. Boston has 11 games remaining, and only needs to win four to take the East, regardless of what the Rays and O's do.
- It would have been nice to get some help in the AL Best Record race this weekend from Texas, who were 3 1/2 games behind the AL West first place A's, and hosting them with a chance to tighten that division race significantly. Instead, the Rangers rolled over and let the A's, for all intents and purposes, put the West away. The Red Sox still have an edge, but the race for the AL's best record is close.
- The Ellsbury news is relatively positive - the swelling has gone down, he's started baseball activity, and they expect him back before the regular season ends.
- The Buchholz news is extremely positive. With two more starts in the regular season, he should be pretty close to fully stretched out for the post-season. Fully stretched out, close to mid-season form, and extremely well-rested. That could be a good combination.
- The Red Sox, after struggling mightily in the last two Septembers, are now 11-3 in September of 2013, which has allowed them to open up a huge lead in the East. Oakland is still close, though, largely because the A's are also 11-3 in September.
- Because I've heard other people talking about it, let's just note, for the record, that a) the Red Sox have never won 100 games since the AL expanded in 1961, b) the last time the Red Sox won 100 games was the 104 wins of the legendary 1946 team and c) if this team goes 8-3 in its last 11 games, it will finish with a record of 100-62.
- Yes, I've got enough superstition remaining to feel like it's asking for trouble to even mention it.
- Have I mentioned yet that last night's Red Sox win against the Yankees, their 6th in 7 tries over the last week and a half, eliminated the Yankees from contention in the AL East?
- For the first time since he returned from his (brief) Minor League exile, Will Middlebrooks (.000/.000/.000/.000 in 17 at-bats, -2.07 runs created, -2.88 RC/25 outs) really struggled. That, in and of itself, is not a big deal - it happens to everyone. David Ortiz had a week much like that within the last month. The concern with Middlebrooks is that it either represents, or causes, a reversion to the pre-exilic bad habits that rendered him useless offensively. This is, therefore, a big week for Will, and the team, on that front.
- The game of the week was Tuesday's thriller in Tampa, featuring the return of Clay Buchholz vs. David Price and the Rays. This is what I wrote on Wednesday:
Tuesday night's win was huge for Boston.
- Buchholz was outstanding for five innings in his first start in over three months.
- They beat David Price. (They also made him throw 127 pitches, which may be a positive externality for the Twins when they face the Rays on Sunday.)
- The won the game that looked, going in, like the best pitching matchup in the series for Tampa. (Tonight's Cobb vs. Dempster matchup also favors Tampa, but good as Cobb has been, he isn't Price, not yet anyway. And the Red Sox had no idea what they'd get from Buchholz, and knew going in that the bullpen would be in early.)
- They went in to the series with a 7 1/2 game lead - last night's win ensures that they'll leave Tampa with at least 6 1/2 games of that lead still in place. The Rays, to have a realistic chance of winning the division, needed to sweep Boston. The Red Sox have already done everything in this series, and everything on this road trip, that they needed to do, regardless of what happens the next two nights.
- It takes a Grand Slam to go from a tie-game to a four-run lead on one play. The Red Sox did it twice this week, Carp (pinch-hitting) against the Rays and then Saltalamacchia against the Yankees. And each time, it was the game's last scoring.
- Magic Number report:
If Boston wins 5 of their remaining 11 games (5-6, .455, 97 wins):
Boston 9, NY Yankees 2
Minnesota 6, Tampa 4
Baltimore 3, Toronto 1
Oakland 5, Texas 1
Detroit 3, Kansas City 2
Tampa Bay cannot tie
Baltimore cannot tie
NY Yankees cannot tie
Detroit must go 11-2 to tie
Oakland must go 9-4 to tie
Any combination of Boston wins and Tampa Bay losses totaling 4 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Tampa Bay
Any combination of Boston wins and Baltimore losses totaling 1 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Baltimore
Any combination of Boston wins and Detroit losses totaling 8 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Detroit
Any combination of Boston wins and Oakland losses totaling 10 ensures that Boston finishes ahead of Oakland
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/16/2013
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Standings for the week
Labels: magic number, pythagorean, Red Sox