Saturday, September 21, 2013
Sox shift focus to securing best AL record
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- After the beer and champagne is spent, the Red Sox have to get back to the matter at hand. The American League East is all wrapped up, but there is plenty still to play for.
Boston's division-clinching 6-3 win over Toronto on Friday gave the club a 94-61 record. While the Sox celebrated their first AL East crown in six years, Oakland was polishing off an 11-0 triumph over Minnesota, which left the Athletics at 91-63. Detroit is just a game behind Oakland at 90-64.
Therefore, the best record in the AL is still up for grabs. Securing that top spot and clinching home-field advantage throughout the postseason remains a big incentive.
"We never put a win total on a number of games," Red Sox manager John Farrell said when asked about the possibility of reaching 100 victories. "I think the biggest thing is to secure home-field advantage however we can because we thrive on the energy and the atmosphere that's created in this ballpark. Our guys are extremely confident when we play at home. At home this is a very different feel."
Boston is 52-27 at Fenway Park this year, compared to 42-34 on the road. Since 1999, the club is 20-11 at home in the postseason and 16-18 on the road. That's a striking disparity, especially when your livelihood is determined in best-of-five or best-of-seven scenarios that can swing on one game.
The celebration in the clubhouse spilled onto the field Friday night, but after 20 minutes or so players began to settle down and returned to the clubhouse. At some point in the night (or morning), it will be time to turn the page and concentrate on that next goal. The winning pitcher, moments after being doused in champagne, managed to shed light on the need to refocus.
"The win's the most important thing and we will enjoy it," Jon Lester said. "Hopefully not too hard because we've got to get that best record."