Red Sox

Red Sox clinch playoff berth for third straight season

Red Sox clinch playoff berth for third straight season

The Red Sox clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday with their win over the Blue Jays.

It's the third consecutive season in which the Sox clinched a playoff spot, matching the longest such streak in franchise history (2003-05, 2007-09). They are the first team to earn a playoff berth this season and the sixth-quickest team to do so since 1996.

With Tuesday's win, Boston improved to an incredible 99-46 on the year. The franchise record for regular season wins is 105 (1912).

The magic number to clinch the AL East is now 9 following the Yankees' loss.

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How does Leon stack up against champion Sox catchers?

How does Leon stack up against champion Sox catchers?

For the next few days, we'll be reminiscing on 2004, 2007, and 2013 Red Sox champions at each position and seeing how they stack up against their 2018 counterparts. Today, we begin the series at the catcher position. . .

Jason Varitek, 2004

Regular season: .296/.390/.482, 18 HR, 73 RBI

Playoffs: .245/.328/.472, 3 HR, 11 RBI

Year in summary: 2004 was quite an eventful year for Varitek. Not only did he have one of his best seasons at the plate, but it can be argued his brawl with Alex Rodriguez on July 24 sparked the torrid run the Red Sox went on in the second half of the season. Tek was a factor throughout the 2004 team's World Series run and went on to earn his captaincy in December.

Jason Varitek, 2007

Regular season: .255/.367/.421, 17 HR, 68 RBI

Playoffs: .269/.310/.423, 1 HR, 10 RBI

Year in summary: The captain enjoyed another solid season at the plate. Though, he wasn't there for his bat. He was there for his leadership and because there was nobody better at calling a game. This was evident on September 1 when he caught Clay Buchholz's no-hitter vs the Orioles in Buchholz's second MLB start. It was the third no-hitter Varitek caught in his career (Nomo, Lowe).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 2013

Regular season: .273/.338/.466, 14 HR, 65 RBI

Playoffs: .188/.257/.219, 0 HR, 5 RBI

Year in summary: Saltalamacchia was a solid offensive contributor during the 2013 championship season. The same could not be said for the postseason. However, Salty came through when it mattered most.  He hit with the walk-off single in Game 2 of the ALCS vs the Tigers. That game is remembered for David Ortiz's game-tying grand slam, but it was Saltalamacchia who finished things off.

Sandy Leon, 2018

Regular season (so far): .182/.240/.287, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Year in summary: Leon doesn't pose anything close to the same threat with the bat that Varitek and Saltalamacchia did. What makes Leon so valuable is the trust he has gained from the pitching staff. His presence seems to be a formula for victory as the Sox are 51-23 when he's behind the plate. Now, it's just a matter of carrying that success through the postseason.

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Benintendi, Betts out of lineup against Yankees

Benintendi, Betts out of lineup against Yankees

The Red Sox are close to clinching the A.L. East crown. Very close, in fact. They need only to defeat the Yankees tonight, and they're kings of the division for a third straight year. 

Unfortunately, they'll have to do it without two of their top contributors. The lineup was released for tonight's bout in the Bronx, and both Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi will be watching the game from the dugout. 

The Sox are shuffling their roster around accordingly, sending J.D. Martinez out to right field and putting Eduardo Núñez at DH. They'll also be starting Brandon Phillips at third and shifting Brock Holt to left field to replace Benintendi. 

Betts is being held out after suffering soreness in his left side in the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Mets. 

The Red Sox handled New York easily in their last series, but the Yankees are getting back a key piece. Star slugger Aaron Judge will be back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a fractured hand on July 26th. 

While it would be nice to clinch the division tonight, the Red Sox are in no hurry. They hold an 11.5-game lead over New York, and only need one win during the three-game series to clinch the crown. They comfortably have the best record in baseball, and all eyes are on the postseason at this point. 

As we've seen, this is a deep Red Sox team. Having two of their top performers out doesn't signal a loss by any means. Better for Betts and Benintendi to get the rest while the team can afford to sit them. 

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 tonight.