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Friday, September 13, 2013
Red Sox playoff watch

By Gordon Edes

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: 89-59

Games left: 14

Lead in AL East: 8 games over Tampa Bay (79-66)

Magic number to win division: 8

What does magic number mean?: If Tampa Bay wins all 17 of its remaining games, Boston would have to win 8 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 its remaining games. Then you calculate 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, 6 ahead of Texas.

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

What about the Yankees?: Beat the Orioles, 6-5, for their third win in a row, remaining a game behind the Rays in the wild-card race. The Yanks, who beat the Sox on Brandon Workman’s wild pitch on Sunday, did the same to the Orioles on Thursday night, the go-ahead run scoring on Jim Johnson’s first wild pitch of the season. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was forced to use Mariano Rivera for the fourth time in five games.

Who’s hot?: Ryan Raburn, who is just coming back from a strained Achilles, drove in five runs, three on his 16th home run, as the Indians routed the White Sox, 14-3, to stay within 1 games of a wild-card spot. The Indians have won a franchise-record nine in a row against the White Sox and 12 of 14 overall, with three more games this weekend.

Who’s not?: Of the 22 pitchers Alex Rodriguez has faced 50 or more times in his career (including postseason), Red Sox pitcher John Lackey ranks second in lowest batting average, with A-Rod batting just .194 (13 for 67) against the Boston right-hander (Sidney Ponson, of all people, has held him to the lowest average .188, 13 for 69). Lackey has struck out Rodriguez 28 times, more than any other big-league pitcher in his career.

Red Sox latest outcome: Lost to the Rays, 4-3, on Thursday.

Rays latest outcome: Beat the Red Sox, 4-3, on Thursday.

Notable: David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks are the only current members of the Red Sox to hit a home run off Mariano Rivera, the great Yankees’ closer who is making his farewell regular-season appearance in Fenway Park this weekend, barring an unexpected change of heart. Of all players who have had 20 or more plate appearances in their career against Rivera [including postseason], Ortiz ranks sixth in batting average, at .342 (13 for 38). Two former Sox players have a higher average against Rivera: Carl Crawford (.364, 8 for 22) and Nomar Garciaparra (.348, 8 for 23). Crawford was 1 for 2 against Rivera while with the Sox. The Yankees, meanwhile, have one baserunner in 18 plate appearances this season against Sox closer Koji Uehara, that coming on a double by Lyle Overbay. Uehara has 10 strikeouts and no walks against the Bombers.

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