Jon Lester struck out eight in seven innings and Koji Uehara picked up a five-out save Friday as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 6-3 on Friday and clinched the AL East title.
Lester allowed just one run in seven innings to improve to 5-1 in his last seven starts. He’s turned in nine straight quality starts, allowing one run or fewer in five of them.
After Junichi Tazawa gave up a two-run homer and a single in the eighth, Uehara was called on to get five outs and did so for his 20th save. He did give up two singles along the way; it’s the first time since July 6 that he’s given up two hits in an appearances. It was the fourth time in the last month that he’s pitched over an inning for a save. The only reliever with more than four such saves this season is the Angels’ Ernesto Frieri with seven.
For the Red Sox, the win culminates a worst-to-first season that’s seen them go from 69-93 to 94-61 and counting. It’s their first AL East title since 2007 and just their since since 1995. They currently have the best record in baseball, setting them up to have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. That’s pretty big considering that they’re 52-27 at Fenway Park this year. The Red Sox haven’t won a postseason series since 2008, when they beat the Angels in the ALDS before losing to the Rays. They were swept by the Angels in the 2009 ALDS and they missed the postseason the following three seasons.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tweeted on Sunday, “Got a little too close to [Francisco Lindor] during the celebration!! Freak accident but should be good to go by Tuesday! #cantkeepmeoutofthisgame!”
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, manager Terry Francona said Kipnis is dealing with a low ankle sprain, but he’s expected to be ready to go when the World Series begins on Tuesday. Kipnis went through fielding drills on Sunday.
Kipnis is hitting .167/.219/.367 with a pair of homers and four RBI in eight games this postseason.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Indians manager Terry Francona has set his starting rotation for the first three games of the World Series against the Cubs. Corey Kluber will start Game One, followed by Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin for Games Two and Three, respectively.
Kluber, the ace of the staff, has had a terrific postseason. He’s made three starts with a 0.98 ERA and a 20/7 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings. The Indians won two of his starts — Game Two of the ALDS and Game 1 of the ALCS.
Bauer was unable to make it out of the first inning of his ALCS Game 3 start against the Blue Jays after the stitches on his pinky opened up and caused blood to pour out. He suffered the injury repairing one of his drones, which he builds as a hobby. Bauer insists he’ll be good to go in Game Two, though he also insisted that the injury wouldn’t be an impediment against the Jays.
Tomlin has made two solid starts for the Indians, allowing a total of three runs over 10 2/3 innings. The Indians won both games he started, Game 3 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the ALCS. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes that if Bauer can’t go in Game Two, Tomlin will be moved up to start in his place.