Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Ortiz both hit homers as the Sox ended
the regular season at Fenway Park by beating Toronto 5-2 on Sunday. (Christopher Evans/Boston Herald)
The American League East Division champion Red Sox closed out the regular season at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, improving to an MLB-best 95-62 on the year.
While Boston already claimed its first AL East title since 2007 on Friday night with a 6-3 win over the Jays, every victory they can rack up gets them that much closer to securing home-field advantage in the postseason.
The AL West-leading Oakland A’s, who beat Minnesota later on Sunday, sit at 93 wins, while the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers, who lost Sunday, have 91 victories.
The home-field edge could prove to pay big dividends for the Sox, who have thrived in Fenway’s friendly confines this year. The Olde Towne team has gone 53-28 at the Fens in 2013 while compiling a 42-34 record on the road with five remaining away games still to play before the playoffs begin.
Felix Doubront was steady throughout seven innings on Sunday, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out two and walking a pair to improve to 11-6 and drop his ERA to 4.08. It was the final turn in the starting rotation for Doubront before manager John Farrell moves the Venezuelan lefty out to the bullpen, where he’ll join fellow starter Ryan Dempster for the rest of the season and playoffs.
Franklin Morales came on to pitch an inning of relief, while Koji Uehara collected his 21st save of the season with one of his now-trademark 1-2-3 outings in the ninth to lower his already stingy ERA to 1.12. Over his last ten outings, Uehara — who recorded a five-out save on Friday — has gone 1-1 with a 0.80 ERA.
Despite striking out a season-high 11 batters and only giving up six hits in a complete-game outing, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was saddled with the loss to fall to 13-13 with a 4.27 ERA as he surrendered four of his five earned runs on a pair of homers.
Kevin Pillar went 2 for 3 at the plate with a homer and collected both RBI for the Jays, while Jackie Bradley, Jr. was the difference-maker for Boston, hitting a three-run bomb to right in the second. Ryan Lavarnway and David Ortiz accounted for the other two RBI for the Sox.
With the win, the Sox closed out the season series against the Jays up 11-8.
Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:
1) Pillar Of Strength: Kevin Pillar got Toronto on the board first in the second inning when he stroked a single to center off Doubront, allowing Mark DeRosa to score from second to give the Jays a 1-0 lead.
2) Lavarnway, And Surely: In the home half of the second, Ryan Lavarnway drove in his 14th RBI in just 22 games with a single to right, cashing in Daniel Nava to tie up the game and sending Stephen Drew to third.
3) Big Jack: One batter later, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his third home run of the season and collected three RBI as he launched a Dickey knuckler to right to put Boston up 4-1.
4) The Big Pap Don’t Stop: In the sixth, David Ortiz thumbed his nose at the defensive shift, notching his 29th homer and 98th RBI of the season to right field on the first pitch he saw from Dickey to give Boston a 5-2 lead.
The Red Sox enjoy an off day Monday as they fly to Colorado to take on the Rockies for a short, two-game set beginning Tuesday. Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.68 ERA) takes the hill in Game One against righthander Tyler Chatwood (7-5, 3.36 ERA). First pitch goes at 8:40 p.m. EST.