Boston Red Sox

One last shot for Sox

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One last shot for Sox

First things first: No one's counting on the Red Sox to make the playoffs this season.

Second things second: We still can't count them out.

Obviously, that last fact is based almost purely on math and a level of literal thinking that borders on the annoying. The same people who say, "Well, the Sox still technically have a chance to make the playoffs" are the same ones who make the "Oh man, feels like I haven't see you in a year!" joke when you bump into them on January 2 and refer to tomorrow as today after midnight. It's a total buzzkill.

Still, they're right. As negative as we want to be right now, the truth is that the Sox do still have a chance to make something of this season. Then again, even the most literal andor optimistic Sox fan will have trouble keeping it together if Boston can't get it going over these next seven days.

Starting tonight, the Sox begin seven-game homestand against the struggling Angels and the still-underachieving Royals. It's the longest homestand that Boston has left on the season, and (considering the current state of Mike Scoscia's boys) it comes against a level of competition that's . . . well, most similar to the Sox level of talent. It's very likely their last chance to build some rhythm and find something to rally around down the stretch.

Can they go 6-1? Not likely, but the Angels are 5-13 in their last 18 games. The Royals are the Royals and already looking to next year and I'm going to stop before I start sounding too much like one of the people I was making fun of at the start of this post. Let's just start by seeing how they do tonight. (Or if the game ends after midnight, tomorrow).

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

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.