The same day the Dodgers clinched the first playoff spot in the National League by winning the NL West, the Boston Red Sox became the first team in the American League to punch their postseason ticket, defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1.
The Red Sox missed clinching a place in the 2013 playoff twice in this series with Baltimore before pulling it off Thursday behind a strong start from John Lackey. The right-hander threw a complete game two-hitter to to send the Red Sox back to October, and he was backed by a Stephen Drew home run and an RBI single from Dustin Pedroia in the second inning.
The Red Sox will make their 21st postseason appearance in franchise history, and their first since 2009. That year ended a string in which the Sox made the playoffs in six of their previous seven seasons, dating back to 2003. It is fitting that this win should come against the rival Orioles. Baltimore helped complete the Red Sox 2011 September collapse with a dramatic comeback win in Game 162.
With this win, the Red Sox are certain to play at least one game in October, but they are still two wins short of clinching their first division title since 2007. A loss on Thursday by Tampa Bay would drop Boston's magic number to one.
The Red Sox face the Blue Jays on Friday.