Box Score Bank: Manny comes to Fenway

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Box Score Bank: Manny comes to Fenway

The Sox are in Cleveland today to kick off a four-game series with the Indians, aka the only team in baseball having a worse summer than Bobby V's boys.

Before last night's win over Minnesota, Cleveland had lost 11 straight, and in the process had taken themselves from borderline Wild Card contenders to American League punchlines. They're currently nine and a half games back in the Central, nine games back in the Wild Card and look poised to miss the playoffs for the 10th time in 11th years.

See . . . it could be worse.

Anyway, since both teams are in a bad place, let's look at the past and celebrate the greatest gift that Cleveland has given Red Sox fans over these last 2012 or so years.

Manny Ramirez.

Setting the Box Score Bank for . . . May 26, 1994.
The cinematic masterpiece Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was No. 1 at the box office. I Swear by All-4-One was in the first of its 11-week run atop the Billboard charts. It was two months after the death of Kurt Cobain, two weeks before the deaths of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, and two months before the death of the 1994 season . . .

And here in Boston, Manny Ramirez was stepping into the Fenway batter's box for the first time in his legendary career.

Final Score: Red Sox 13, Indians 5

Ramirez was actually called up to the majors in September of the '93 season and appeared in a three-game series against the Sox (he went 4-for-12 with one RBI) that year, but it wasn't until May of 1994 that the then-21 year old made his Fenway debut.

Batting seventh, he drew a walk from Joe Hesketh in his first at-bat, then flew out, singled, struck out and flew out in four subsequent ABs. That's 1-for-4 if you're counting at home.

And in the backdrop of Manny's debut, the Sox had themselves quite an afternoon, lighting up Cleveland starter Julian Tavarez for eight runs over 1 23 innings, and scoring 11 runs over the first two innings total, in a 13-5 win. Otis Nixon was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Mike Greenwell was 2-for-4 with three RBI. Damon Berryhill hit a solo homer off Tavarez in the second.

But in the end, none of it really mattered, as the season was canceled on August 12.

Six years later, Ramirez fled Cleveland for the Sox.

Eleven years later, and here we are. Getting ready for a relatively meaningless summer series between two American League also-rans.

Can you feel it?!

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.