BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox had a bottled up celebration after their 7-2 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night.
There was a toast in the locker room after Brock Holt’s pinch-hit homer in the seventh lifted them to yet another comeback win, as Boston became the first team to clinch a playoff spot with the win. But there was no grand jamboree inside Fenway Park, because the team’s work is far from done.
Boston’s spot in the postseason was essentially a foregone conclusion back in May as the team tore through baseball. But at least it’s now official and, at the very least, the Red Sox are one of the two teams in the AL Wild Card game.
“We’ve got a shot now, we’re in, we have the elimination game now,” manager Alex Cora said with restrained jubilation Tuesday night. “We know we’re in a great position to win the division and to accomplish other things. Credit to them. I just told them, I told the group I’m very proud of them regardless of what’s going on around us, the winning streaks, the losing streaks, we stay together. They’ve been very consistent as far as showing up every day and preparing for the game and playing the game. I’m very proud of that.”
But they have much bigger plans for this October on Jersey Street, and a few more things to clinch before the calendar changes over.
The Red Sox can now set their sights on the AL East, with their magic number to clinch the division down to nine. That process could be expedited next week when they clash with the Yankees for three games in the Bronx. If (or when) the Red Sox clinch the division, it will mark the third straight season they’ll finish atop the AL East. Prior to last season, they had never won back-to-back division titles, so their divisional three-peat is quite the accomplishment.
But that too will be just a footnote in an incredible regular season. At 99-46, the Red Sox are just seven wins away from setting a new franchise record for victories in the season. They’re also inching closer and closer to securing the best record in baseball, currently owners of an eight-game lead over the Houston Astros for those bragging rights. With only 17 games remaining in the season, that too look likes a foregone conclusion at this point.
Finishing on top of the American League would get the Red Sox a divisional round matchup with the Yankees, Astros or Oakland Athletics. That series will begin on Oct. 5 at Fenway Park, in case you like to plan ahead.
There will likely be a few more celebrations in the Boston locker room over the next two weeks, but they’ll just be teasers for what the team hopes to is one giant bash come late October.