Red Sox defeat Orioles, clinch a playoff spot

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The Red Sox are headed back to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

John Lackey went the distance tonight in a 3-1 victory over the Orioles, helping the Red Sox clinch a spot in the playoffs. The win secured them at least a spot in the American League Wild Card game. Their magic number sits at two to win the American League East.

It’s fitting that the resurgent Lackey would be the one to get them there. The veteran right-hander gave up just two hits on the night while walking two and striking out eight. He didn’t allow his first hit until Adam Jones went deep for a solo homer with two outs in the seventh inning. After missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery, he now owns a 3.44 ERA and 156/39 K/BB ratio over 183 1/3 innings. Tonight’s complete game was his first as a member of the Red Sox. Remember when his contract was a disaster?

The Red Sox were a complete disaster under Bobby Valentine last season, finishing with a record of 69-93, but John Farrell has guided them to 93 wins so far this season. How’s that for some nifty symmetry?

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.