By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
The Sox activated pitcher Clay Buchholz prior to the game, making him available for the first time since late June.
Buchholz had been sidelined since then with a stress fracture in his lower back. He threw an inning in an Instructional League game Monday in Florida and was do to return there for another appearance Wednesday.
But when the Sox got into the bullpen in the fourth inning Tuesday, they decided that it would be better to have Buchholz available to help them in the final regular season game.
"We were going to send him down," said Terry Francona, "but I think we all kind of got together and thought, the way things are going, we've shown we can play 14-, 15-inning games. If we're fortunate enough to have a blowout, we'd love to pitch him. If we ever got into a situation where he could be kind of the wild card, knowing that there's a lot there that's not proven right now. We figured, just keep him here and activate him."
For Buchholz, a return to the bullpen will require an adjustment.
"But to come in and get three outs or so," said Buchholz, "one out, two outs, whatever it is they need me to get, I think so. It's just a feel thing, getting your feel for pitches. I feel like my pitches are there and my arm feels good."
Sean McAdam can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.
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.
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.