Boston clinched a share of the AL East title and left pitcher Tom Bolton in charge of guiding the Red Sox to its playoff destiny.
The Red Sox, seeking their third division title in five years, came closer to making it a reality Monday night with a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.The win put second-place Toronto, which lost 6-3 to Baltimore, at a disadvantage. If Toronto fails to win its final two games or if Boston wins either of its remaing pair, the Red Sox would capture the AL East.
If Toronto and Boston are tied at the end of the regular season, they will meet Thursday at Toronto for a one-game playoff. The winner would host the Oakland A's in Saturday's opener of the league championship series.
Boston's win also left Bolton, the next scheduled starter, in a situation most pitcher's would envy.
"It's my last start of the season and I want to get the big one," said Bolton, 10-5. "I would like to finish it off. I feel I'm the luckiest guy in the clubhouse to get the chance to do this."
Chicago starter Greg Hibbard said that Boston will have to work hard against his team to earn the division title. "In the next two games, we're going to make them go out and play. It's not going to be easy for them," Hibbard said. "You go out there and try to give them a run for their money - give them a good game and make them earn it."
Boston would rather do just that than back into the divison title. In 1988, Boston learned it had won the title while waiting at a Cleveland hotel.
"We don't want to back in, like we did in '88, we want to win this one ourselves," Dwight Evans said.
Mike Greenwell agreed. "We want to win by winning," he said.
"If we win, we have the luxury of going out and saying, 'We corraled our own destiny,"' Wade Boggs said.
Dwight Evans singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Jeff Reardon, 5-3, hurled 1 1-3 innings of relief for the win.
Reardon wasn't oblivious to the noise the Fenway Park fans made when they saw the final score in Baltimore.
"I knew what it was but I looked up on the scoreboard to make sure it was over," Reardon said.
In other American League action, Detroit blanked New York 2-0, Baltimore downed Toronto 6-3, Minnesota dropped Seattle 7-5, Texas beat Milwaukee 4-2 and California caged Oakland 2-0.