The Boston Red Sox have clinched the AL East with a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. It is their first post-season appearance since 2009 and their first AL East crown since 2007. In all, the Red Sox have won seven AL East titles.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester pitched seven strong innings and earned his 100th career win. After Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa surrendered a two run home run to pinch hitter Adam Lind, Koji Uehara came into the game to record the final five outs for his 20th save of the season.
Mike Carp drove in three of the Sox's six runs with a bases loaded walk and a two run single. Dustin Pedroia went 3 for 5 with a RBI.
I knew the Red Sox would be an improved ballclub in 2013 after the Bobby Valentine debacle in 2012 following the collapse of September 2011 which ended Terry Francona's tenure with the club. I knew that John Farrell would have a credibility in the clubhouse that Valentine never had with his previous status as Sox pitching coach under Francona. But I did not think they would be this good this soon. I thought they were a year away. Instead, the Red Sox went from worst to first.
Remarkably the Sox did this despite not having Clay Buchholz for more than half the season, despite losing closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey to season ending injuries, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks being demoted to Pawtucket to regain his stroke.
No doubt the additions of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes made the Red Sox a far grittier club. John Lackey lost weight and regained his fastball, Uehara stepped into the closer's role, Daniel Nava exceed expectations with a .300 average and Carp played well off the bench.
What I find most remarkable is that the Red Sox never had a losing streak of longer than three games all season.
The Red Sox's renewed espirit de corps came shining through following the Boston Marathon Bombings. David Ortiz's inspirational, if off-color speech the day after the capture of Dzhokar Tsarnaev set the tone for the entire season.
I still think trading away Jose Iglesias was a mistake and have a feeling the Tigers will make the Sox rue that move should they meet during this post-season.
Regardless of what happens in October this has been a very good year for the Boston Red Sox.