Clemens or Beckett?

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Clemens or Beckett?

Its an age-old baseball debate, right up there with Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame? Would Moises Alou have caught the ball? and "Was Izzy Alcantara actually The Messiah?"

Its simply: Who should start Game 7?

Of course, its different for every team, and in some cities, the answers obvious: Seattle (King Felix). Detroit (Justin Verlander). Anaheim (Jered Weaver). Yankees (Steve Nebraska). But for the last few years, its been a difficult question here in Boston.

On one hand, there was Josh Beckett, who wed seen do it before, and believed would do it again. Then there was Jon Lester, the more reliable pitcher, and probably the safer choice. Beckett was like ordering the sushi special at a random dive in China Town it could be the best thing you ever tasted . . . or leave you hunched over a toilet bowl. On the other hand, Lester was a solid noodle dish. Chicken lo mein, with a side of fried rice. There was a lower ceiling but you couldnt go wrong.

Anyway, these days that conversation is meaningless. First of all, because its been nearly four years since the Sox were in a position to even take part in a Game 7. Second of all, because for the better part of this season, Beckett and Lester were barely worthy of a playoff roster spot, never mind a start. In fact, if you had to pick a guy to pitch a fictional Game 7 in 2012, it would be Clay Buchholz. And even then, you'd like to see Buchholz maintain this dominance for another month or so before falling under his spell again.

So heres a better question:

Who would you rather start a potential Game 7 for the Sox: Beckett or 50-year-old Roger Clemens?

I don't mean now, because that would obviously be unfair. I think we have to give Clemens at least a few starts with the Sugar Land Skeeters to loosenbuild up his arm and catch up to Beckett's conditioning. Also, does anyone know how long it takes steroids to kick in? I mean, who knows, by the time October roles around, Clemens could be more charged than the Ultimate Warrior.

Honestly, think about, who would you rather have on the mound in a must-win situation: A slovenly, apathetic 32-year-old Beckett or a 50-year-old Rocket with everything to prove and enough 'roids in him to kill a rhinoceros?

It's something to think about. After all, these kinds of questions are why God invented off-days. Well, for that and golfing.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.