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Numbers game

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  September 18, 2007 09:09 AM

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Are you concerned that the Red Sox’ division lead is slipping away? Worried about the team backing into the playoffs as the wild card?

While the Red Sox continue to enjoy more days in first place, a slot they've occupied since April 18, their 3 1/2 game lead over the Yankees is the smallest since the Sox led the Blue Jays by three games back on April 26. This is also the closest the Yankees have been to the Red Sox since they were three games behind after April 21.

The Red Sox’ magic number remains at nine to clinch their first division title since 1995, but old friend Johnny Damon has not given up on the Yankees winning the East -- "We're still shooting for Boston," Damon said in today's New York Post. "Hopefully, teams can play them well, and hopefully we can win some games."

Yankees manager Joe Torre shows no signs of being content coasting into the playoffs as the wild card team, saying he will pull out all the stops down the stretch -- "Every game we have an opportunity to win, we're going to take it," Torre said in today's Daily News. "Whatever price you have to pay, you have to pay, at this point."

While the Sox are obviously just as hungry for a division title and securing the best record in the American League (particularly because this season the top team in each league will have a choice of the day on which their division series will start), the wild card remains a nice fallback plan for the Sox.

As of this morning, they hold a comfortable seven-game lead over the Tigers, who are currently second to the Yankees in the wild card race. The magic number for the Red Sox getting into the playoffs is down to just five with 11 games to play (2 at Toronto, 3 at Tampa Bay, and finishing at home vs. the A’s and Twins -- 3 games apiece).

To keep track of the numbers game as the season winds down, check out MagicNumbers.org for the Red Sox magic number to clinch both the AL East and the AL wild card.

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