Tuesday September 17, 2013 | 05:56 AM

Ryan Dempster takes the mound tonight as the Red Sox welcome the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game series.

Dempster (8-9, 4.70) does not figure to be in the post-season rotation, so this could be his last start. Dempster may have a bullpen role in the playoffs, and Boston could send him there later this week.

Manager John Farrell said Felix Doubront would make a start in this weekend's series with the Blue Jays. He could take Dempster's spot (a short-lived role since Doubront won't be a playoff starter, either).

The Orioles will start right-hander Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.62). Feldman was with the Rangers before signing as a free agent with the Cubs this season. Traded to Baltimore in July, he faced the Red Sox once, losing to Boston and Demptster on July 27. Feldman went five innings, allowing four runs (including a three-run Stephen Drew home run).

Tampa Bay beat Texas 6-2 on Monday - the Rangers' seventh straight loss (they have not led in any of those games). The Rays' win keeps Boston's magic number for the division title at four.

Tom Caron writes that the champagne will be pouring this week.

The standings/numbers:

Red Sox 92-59
Rays 82-67 (9 games back)
Orioles 79-70 (12)

To clinch a playoff spot: 2
To clinch the AL East: 4
To clinch the best record in the AL: 9

Boston (11): Orioles (3), Blue Jays (3), at Rockies (2), at Orioles (3).
Rays (13): Rangers (3), Orioles (4), at Yankees (3), at Blue Jays (3).

Division Leaders
Boston 92-59
Oakland 88-62
Detroit 87-63

Wild Card
Tampa Bay 82-67
Texas 81-68
Cleveland 81-69 (0.5 game back)
Baltimore 79-70 (2)
Kansas City 79-71 (2.5)
New York 79-71 (2.5)

Cleveland lost to Kansas City 7-1 and missed a chance to hop past the Rangers in the Wild Card race, but Cleveland is still primed for a run. After the Royals, the Indians close their season with the Astros, White Sox and Twins.

If Cleveland reaches the the AL Division Series, manager Terry Francona could find himself back at Fenway, writes Danny Knobler of cbssports.com.


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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