Wednesday September 11, 2013 | 06:00 AM

Clay Buchholz does not pitch in a major league game for three months and jumps back in with a three-hit shutout over five innings (1 BB, 6 K). Yeah, we all saw that coming, as the Red Sox beat the Rays 2-0.

Baltimore and Oakland also lost, so Boston's various magic numbers were all reduced. Boston is closing in on clinching a playoff spot and then the AL East. The Red Sox also have a four-game lead on Oakland for the best record in the American League (and home field advantage in the playoffs).

A reminder that a magic number is the number of wins a leading team needs to clinch (or a combination of wins, and losses by the team chasing the leader).

Boston's magic number to win the AL East is 10. If Boston wins 10 more games, it clinches. If the Red Sox win nine games and the Rays lose once, Boston clinches, etc., etc.

Red Sox 88-58
Rays 78-65 (8.5 games back)
Orioles 77-67 (10)
Yankees 77-68 (10.5)

To clinch a playoff spot: 8
To clinch the AL East: 10
To clinch the best record in the AL: 14

Boston (16): at Rays (2), Yankees (3), Orioles (3), Blue Jays (3), at Rockies (2), at Orioles (3).

Rays (19): Red Sox (2), at Twins (3), Rangers (4), Orioles (4), at Yankees (3), at Blue Jays (3).

Division Leaders
Boston 88-58
Oakland 83-61
Detroit 83-62

Wild Card
Texas 81-63
Tampa Bay 78-65
Baltimore 77-67 (1.5 games back)
Cleveland 77-67 (1.5)
New York 77-68 (2)
Kansas City 76-69 (3)

Pawtucket won its opening game inthe International League championship series. Brock Holt's two-run single in the eighth inning gave the PawSox a 2-1 win over Durhman. Starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo went 6 innings: 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

In the first game of the Eastern league finals, Trenton topped Harrisburg 8-2.

Salem, the Red Sox advanced Class A affiliate, won the Carolina League championship with a three-game sweep of Potomac. Sean Coyle had two doubles and four RBI in the 6-4 win Tuesday. Coyle batted .417 in the playoffs and was named the series MVP.

Mookie Betts batted .412 in the playoffs, after batting .341 in 51 games since being promoted to Salem.

Both could be coming to Portland, but someone is going to have to change positions or keep alternating as DH. Both are second basemen. Coyle was the DH on Tuesday.

Coyle, 21, who played 116 games in Salem last year, was injured much of 2013 and played only 60 games. He has never played anywhere but second base. Betts, 20, has played 211 games at second, and only 16 at shortstop.

Second base also happens to be a tough position to break into the majors in Boston. The current second baseman has a contract through 2021.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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