Red Sox playoff watch

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
10:45
AM ET
Red Sox record: 92-60

Games left: 10

Lead in AL East: 9½ games over Tampa Bay (82-68)

Magic number to clinch playoff spot: 2 (Sox can clinch tonight with a win over Baltimore and an Indians loss to the Royals)

Magic number to win division: 3

Magic number to clinch best overall record: 9

What does magic number mean?: If Tampa Bay wins all 12 of its remaining games, Boston would have to win 3 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, 2½ games ahead of Oakland, 3½ games ahead of Detroit.

If season ended today, teams in playoffs: Sox, Tigers, Athletics, Rays, Rangers.

What about the Yankees?: They were shut out in Toronto, 2-0, with knuckleballer R. A. Dickey surviving early trouble to throw seven scoreless innings. Dickey threw 51 pitches in the first two innings, but escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first when he K’d Mark Reynolds. He then faced a minimum 15 batters the rest of the way, allowing one hit. Yanks are 3 games out of a wild-card spot with 11 games left.

Who’s hot?: Terry Francona lost his job in Boston when the Sox collapsed in 2011, going 7-20 in September. Francona, in his first season back as manager, is writing a different September song in Cleveland, where the Indians are 11-5 this month after their come-from-behind, 5-3 win over the Royals on Tuesday night. They remain a half-game out of the wild-card spot, and after the rubber game of their series Wednesday with the Royals, their last 10 games are against the Astros, White Sox and Twins.

Who’s not?: Rays OF-DH Matt Joyce is just 2 for 34 in September, an .059 average. The Rays have scored just 53 runs in 16 games this month, one more than the Rangers, and just over half of the 102 runs the Sox have scored in 15 games in September. The Rays are averaging 3.3 runs a game; the Sox, even after being held to two runs Tuesday night, are averaging 6.8 runs a game.

Red Sox latest outcome: Lost to the Orioles, 3-2, on Tuesday.

Rays latest outcome: Lost to the Rangers, 7-1, on Tuesday.

Notable: The Orioles made three errors in a game for the first time since June 27, 2012, and third baseman Manny Machado made two errors in a game for the first time in his young career, but the Orioles still pulled to with two games in the wild card race, with former Sox castoff Danny Valencia tripling and scoring the winning run in the ninth on Matt Wieters’s sacrifice fly.

Playoff format: AL wild-card play-in game on Wednesday, Oct. 2. AL best-of-five division series begins Friday, Oct. 4.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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