Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched eight strong, closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth, and Mike Lowell added to his single season franchise-record RBI total for a third baseman as Boston defeated Minnesota 5-2 at Fenway Park; combined with New York’s 10-9 loss in Baltimore, the Red Sox captured the American League East division title for the first time since 1995. The Yankees, who will enter the playoffs as the Wild Card winner, had won the last nine AL East crowns but, having led the division since mid-April by as many as 11-1/2 games, the Red Sox held off a late-season charge by their biggest rival and will play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, winners of the AL West Division, in the first round of the post-season.
Boston is also tied with the Cleveland Indians, winners of the Central Division who will play the Yankees in a divisional series, for the best record in the American League. Based on the Red Sox winning five-of-seven against the Indians in the regular season, Boston would own the tiebreaker if both teams end the season tied with the best record and have home-field advantage for the playoffs. The Red Sox are already guaranteed home-field advantage in the first round and will host the first game of their division series with the Angels at Fenway.