Another Sox anniversary: Four years since last playoff win

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Another Sox anniversary: Four years since last playoff win

This season was all about anniversaries for the Red Sox. It was the 100th anniversary of the first game played at Fenway Park, the 10-year anniversary of John Henry and friends buying the team, the unforgettable eight-year anniversary of the 2004 World Series, and, of course, the six-year anniversary of Larry Lucchino having his heart replaced with a crab apple.

With that, heres another anniversary for Larry and Dr. Charles Steinberg to run up their marketing flagpole. Today is the four-year anniversary of the last time the Red Sox won a playoff game! (Cue the music, rolling rally and Wally the Green Monster dance routine.)

The victory came on October 18, 2008, at Tropicana Field, in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Rays. And while we all know how much things have changed since that last playoff win, here's a frying-pan-in-the-face reminder: Of the 25 players on the 2008 playoff roster, only three Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester are still with the team. Although David Ortiz lingers as a potential fourth, and Clay Buchholz was on the team but not on the playoff roster.

Can you name the other 21 active Red Sox that day?

If so, you not only deserve a prize, but I'd say you're more qualified than Lucchino to run baseball ops. Here they are: David Ross, Kevin Cash, Jason Varitek, Jed Lowrie, Alex Cora, Kevin Youkilis, Sean Casey, JD Drew, Coco Crisp, Mark Kotsay, Jason Bay, Manny Delcarmen, Dice-K, Josh Beckett, Paul Byrd, Hideki Okajima, Javier Lopez, Tim Wakefield, Mike Timlin, Jonathan Papelbon and Justin Masterson.

Anyway, back to Game 6: Josh Beckett was on the mound and was so-so for the Sox giving up two runs over five innings but the bullpen (Okajima, Masterson and Papelbon) pitch four scoreless inning in relief as the Sox held on for a 4-2 victory. The Sox runs came on solo home runs by Varitek and Youkilis, an Ortiz single and a Youkilis RBI ground out. Jamie Shields up four runs (three earned) over five and two-thirds innings for Tampa, while Carl Crawford went 1-4 in the fifth spot.

All in all, it was a fantastic night for the Sox as they fought back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7. But it was all downhill from there and it's been four years since we've tasted the sweet juices of a playoff victory.

But hey, nothing a few more pointless anniversary celebrations can't fix.
Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.