Red Sox become 1st team in majors to clinch playoff spot

BOSTON (AP) — The Red Sox became the first team in the major leagues to clinch a playoff berth and did not celebrate.

"Any time you make the playoffs and give yourself a chance to be that last team, it's a pretty special thing," Brock Holt said. "We're excited by that, but we've got more work to do."

Holt pinch hit in the seventh inning and hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night that guaranteed Boston no worse than a wild card berth.

At a major league-best 99-46, the Red Sox lead the AL East by nine games with 2½ weeks left. Their postgame celebration was lining up for routine high-fives and heading back to the clubhouse.

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"We're in great position to win the division and then to accomplish other things," first-year manager Alex Cora said. "As I told the group, I'm very proud of them."

Starter Chris Sale came off the disabled list and pitched one scoreless inning, striking out two and throwing 26 pitches. Sale has been slowed by inflammation in his left shoulder, and the Red Sox had said they would ease their ace back into action.

"We're taking care of the guy," Cora said.

2018 World Series odds: August 15
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2018 World Series odds: August 15

Toronto Blue Jays: Off the board

(John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)

Texas Rangers: Off the board

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

San Diego Padres: Off the board

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

New York Mets: Off the board

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Miami Marlins: Off the board

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Kansas City Royals: Off the board

(John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers: Off the board

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Chicago White Sox: Off the board

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Baltimore Orioles: Off the board

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Rays: 900/1

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Minnesota Twins: 900/1

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Reds: 900/1

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Angels: 300/1

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

San Francisco Giants: 80/1

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Pirates: 50/1

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

St. Louis Cardinals: 45/1

(Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Colorado Rockies: 40/1

(Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Seattle Mariners: 30/1

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Washington Nationals: 26/1

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Oakland Athletics: 20/1

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks: 18/1

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Phillies: 16/1

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Milwaukee Brewers: 16/1

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Atlanta Braves: 15/1

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Cleveland Indians: 12/1

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Chicago Cubs: 19/2

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

New York Yankees: 7/1

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Dodgers: 6/1

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Houston Astros: 4/1

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Boston Red Sox: 7/2

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)


Boston assured its third straight postseason team, matching the Red Sox teams of 2003-05 and 2007-09.

Ryan Brasier (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings as Boston used seven relievers.

Toronto led 2-0 in the seventh, when Steve Pearce hit a tying triple and Holt followed with a two-out home run off Ryan Tepera (5-5).

Kevin Pillar had an RBI single for Toronto during a two-run sixth, when Devon Travis scored the game's first run on a double-steal and botched defensive play by the Red Sox.


Toronto starter Ryan Boruki, who allowed seven runs and eight hits July 13 at Fenway Park, held an opponent to two runs or fewer in at least six innings for the third time in four starts.

"He was tremendous today," manager John Gibbons said. "He's done a tremendous job for a rookie call-up."


Sale continued tossing in the bullpen after he was pulled, trying to rebuild his arm strength for the postseason. He was hoping to get a second inning, but Cora said it didn't make sense because the Red Sox weren't going to let him throw more than 40 pitches.

"This is the first step in the right direction," Sale said, crediting the Red Sox medical staff. "There was a lot of work by a lot of people that went into this."


Holt also homered as a pinch hitter on Aug. 13 at Philadelphia.

"I guess I would rather be in there from the start than to come in and pinch-hit," Holt said, "but if I keep on hitting homers then I'll take it."


Blue Jays: RF Randal Grichuk was back in the lineup, two days after he crashed face-first into a guard's metal chair. Concussion tests were negative on Grichuk, who was left with a bloody nose, swollen left eye socket and a few facial cuts. ... Pillar ran face-first into the center field wall chasing Pearce's triple. Pillar needed a few minutes to get back to his feet, but stayed in the game.

Red Sox: Sale made his first start since Aug. 12 and threw 26 pitches. After a leadoff double by Lourdes Gurriel, he struck out two, then walked a batter before Grichuck popped out to end the inning.


RHP Aaron Sanchez (4-5, 5.17 ERA) faces Boston LHP David Price (14-6, 3.57).


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