It's not a matter of if the Boston Red Sox are going to clinch a postseason spot, it's a matter of when. The Beantown faithful hope it's Thursday, as the Red Sox try to salvage the finale of their three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.
Boston, which hasn't been to the postseason since 2009, could have clinched at least a wild card berth on Wednesday with a win over the O's coupled with a Cleveland loss in Kansas City. The Royals did their part in taking out the Indians, but Boston failed to hold up its end of the bargain, as Chris Davis' two-run single in the 12th inning proved to be the difference in Baltimore's 5-3 triumph.
"Anytime you're in a game like that, you want to be the guy that gets the hit," said Davis. "Whether it's a squirter up the middle or a home run or whatever it is."
Matt Wieters doubled twice and drove in two, while Brian Roberts added two hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who have taken three in a row and four of five.
T.J. McFarland (2-1) tossed a scoreless 11th and Jim Johnson did the same in the bottom of the 12th for his 47th save as Baltimore crept within a game of Texas for the final AL wild card spot as the Rangers fell in extra innings to Tampa Bay.
David Ortiz hit a two-run shot and Mike Napoli added a solo blast for the Red Sox, whose magic number for clinching the AL East remains at three.
"I felt like we hit a lot of balls hard, I think it was 17 hits or something but we just couldn't get that big hit," said Red Sox catcher David Ross.
Franklin Morales (2-2) was charged for three hits and the winning runs over two relief innings.
The champagne may stay on ice Thursday, too, as the Red Sox go up against right-hander Chris Tillman, who is 16-6 with a 3.70 ERA. Tillman, though, has lost two of his last three starts and was beaten by Toronto his last time out, as he gave up four runs in eight innings.
Tillman, who has pitched eight innings in four of his last 11 outings, is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox this year, including a win on Aug. 29, when he held them to two runs over seven innings at Fenway Park.
Boston, meanwhile, will rely on veteran right-hander John Lackey, who is 9-12 with a 3.56 ERA. Lackey will be happy to be facing a team other than the New York Yankees, who roughed him up to the tune of 11 runs and 15 hits in his last two outings spanning 12 innings.
Lackey has pitched to a 4.35 ERA in three starts against the Orioles.
Baltimore has won nine of its 15 meetings with the Red Sox this season.