BOSTON -- It’s been a week and truly a year of redemption for the Red Sox, which was ultimately captivated Friday night at Fenway Park. Led by Jon Lester, who had a difficult 2012 season, the Sox clinched their first AL East title since 2007 and just their second in 18 years, with a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. This following a disastrous 2012 season, in which the team won only 69 games.
Continuing the redemption theme, the win came a night after John Lackey, in his first year back since Tommy John surgery, led the Sox to clinching a playoff berth and the win Friday against the Jays is the team manager John Farrell led last season.
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"We play every game until the last out. There are so many cliches you can wrap up about this team," said Jonny Gomes. "I mean never giving up, but to have all that you have to do it individually, you have to be the first one to do that and then it becomes catageous and then all the boys bought in real quick.
Lester certainly didn't have his best stuff, but was able to grind all game and ultimately come away with his 15th win of the season and 100th for his career. The left-hander went seven innings allowing just one run on five hits while striking out eight and throwing 123 pitches. Junichi Tazawa allowed a two-run home run in the eighth, which forced Farrell to go to closer Koji Uehara for the final five outs in picking up his 20th save.
The Red Sox scored two of their five runs in unconventional ways. Their run in the first inning came on a passed ball when Dustin Pedroia raced home and then they scored in the fifth on a Mike Carp bases loaded walk which allowed Daniel Nava to trot home. The game was blown open in the seventh when the Sox scored three runs, the first on a RBI single from David Ortiz and then a two-out, two-run single from Carp. Pedroia added an RBI single in the eighth for the sixth and final Red Sox run.
The teams will play the second game of their three game series tomorrow night (7:10, NESN) where Clay Buchholz will take on Mark Buehrle.
What they'll be saying: After last year's last place finish in the AL East, the Red Sox went from worst to first for the first time in franchise history and since 1994 they are just the second team in the AL to win a division title the year after finishing in last place ... Although Lester didn't have his best stuff, he was able to go seven innings and only allowing the one run, which is something No. 1 starters can do. He now has nine straight quality starts dating back to August 8, posting a 1,80 ERA over that time. He hasn't allowed a home run over those nine starts as well.