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?

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.