Every day between now and the end of the regular season, we'll check in on where things stand in the playoff race.
• Red Sox record: 92-59
• Games left: 11
• Lead in AL East: 9½ games over Tampa Bay (82-67)
• Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 2 (Sox can clinch tonight with a win over Baltimore and an Indians loss to the Royals -- hat tip to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal for that nugget).
• Magic number to win division: 4
• Magic number to clinch best overall record: 9
• What does "magic number" mean? If Tampa Bay wins all 13 of its remaining games, Boston would have to win four 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 its 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 its remaining games.
• Overall ranking in league (important for determining home-field advantage in playoffs): First, 3½ games ahead of Oakland, 4½ games ahead of Detroit.
• If season ended today, teams in playoffs: Sox, Tigers, Athletics, Rays, Rangers
• What about the Yankees? They begin their last stand Tuesday night in Toronto, with a dozen games left to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and second time since 1994. They’ll need better starting pitching. In their last five games, Yankees starters are 0-3 with a 6.32 ERA and have allowed 56 baserunners in 31 1/3 innings.
• Who’s hot?: Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb struck out the first four batters he faced, and 10 overall in eight innings, to beat the Texas Rangers and former Rays starter Matt Garza, MVP of the 2008 ALCS, in Tropicana Field. Only 10,725 fans showed up at the Trop. "What a difference 24 hours makes," Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters. "We all flew back (Sunday) night, everybody was bummed out. Everybody's euphoric (Monday). Twenty-four hours in this game is an incredible amount of time; it's almost like a year."
• Who’s not?: The Rangers, who went to back-to-back World Series before losing the wild-card play-in game last season, have lost seven straight and are 2-12 in September after losing to the Rays. Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan defended manager Ron Washington in a radio interview before the latest loss. "Ron is not the guy out there standing on the mound or in the batter's box or fielding a position," Ryan said. “I think Ron has done everything within his power to try to motivate his club, and I just think we have some people having subpar years, and we've had some injuries, and we just -- we brought a lot of young players into our organization that don't have a lot of experience.
“I think it's a combination of a lot of things. But it comes down to the guys on the field."
• Red Sox latest outcome: Beat the Yankees 9-2 on Sunday.
• Rays latest outcome: Beat the Rangers 6-2 on Monday.
• Notable: The Orioles are staking a claim to being the best defensive team ever. They’ve made just 43 errors in 149 games; the record is 65, set by the 2003 Seattle Mariners. It took the Orioles only 48 games to make 43 errors last season. "Numbers can lie sometimes, and numbers don't lie sometimes," second baseman Brian Roberts told the Baltimore Sun. "I don't think numbers lie with this one."
• Playoff format: AL wild-card play-in game on Wednesday, Oct. 2. AL best-of-five division series begins Friday, Oct. 4.