Our long national nightmare ends: The Red Sox win a game

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It wasn’t pretty — God, it wasn’t pretty — but the Red Sox are finally in the win column, having beat the Yankees 9-6.

This was a game, more than any other, that puts lie to the significance of the win stat. Because John Lackey got the win despite pitching terribly: five innings, seven hits and six runs allowed.  His saving grace: Phil Hughes was way worse, allowing six runs on seven hits in two innings. He didn’t strike out a batter. His velocity, while not quite as bad as his first start (at least judging by NESN’s gun) wasn’t great, and he didn’t fool any Red Sox hitters.

The question after this one is whether Hughes is totally healthy. It wouldn’t shock me to see him DL’d for some reason. Or perhaps to have his next start skipped. If so, Joe Girardi has the option of inserting Bartolo Colon in his place. Colon was actually pretty good in middle relief today despite taking the loss, striking out five in four and a third innings and flashing good speed and movement.

Offensively, Terry Francona’s gambit of putting Carl Crawford in the leadoff spot wasn’t exactly a masterstroke given that he was 0 for 5, but most of the other guys in the lineup hit.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that this game has taken a giant weight off the Red Sox’ shoulders. Now that they will no longer be asked “when will you win?!” the season can truly begin for them. Or at the very least get normal.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.