Thanks to a three-run ninth courtesy of Jason Varitek’s game-tying home run and Julio Lugo’s two-run shot three batters later, the Red Sox’s come-from-behind win on Saturday night at Tropicana Field over the Devil Rays, coupled with the Detroit Tigers’s 7-4 loss at Comerica Park to Kansas City, gave Boston its first trip to the post-season in two years, the team’s third October in four years, and the club’s sixth post-season appearance in the last ten seasons. The final standings are yet to be determined, as Boston is two games ahead of New York for the lead in the American League East at the end of play Monday with six games left in the season. The Red Sox will be home all week at Fenway Park, hosting Oakland for an abbreviated two-game series before concluding the season with a four-game tilt against Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Yankees, who have gone 47-22 since the All-Star break and won 15 of 21 in September to close a five-game difference entering the month to just two games, will be on the road this week visiting Tampa Bay for three games before finishing the season in Baltimore over the weekend.
With a 5-1/2 game lead in the AL Wild Card race and Detroit fading fast, New York is almost guaranteed a playoff spot for the 13th straight season, having made the post-season every year since 1995 when divisional series play began. The Yankees have also won the AL East division nine straight seasons, with the Red Sox finishing second in eight of those first nine years. As for Boston, the team has a chance at its first division title since 1995, finishing that season seven games in front of New York with the second-best record in the American League; unfortunately, the Red Sox were swept out of the first round of playoffs by the Cleveland Indians in three games.