DENVER — Plenty of questions out there about the tiebreaker for best record in the American League. Here’s where it stands and why it matters:
The Sox (95-62) lead the Athletics (94-63) by one game in the race for the best record in the American League. The winner gets to play the wild-card winner and then has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
With Detroit looking like the No. 3 seed, that’s who the No. 2 seed would play. So finishing with the best record means you can avoid Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, etc. That’s a lot of incentive.
The tiebreaker is head to head. The Sox were 3-3 against the A’s. The second tiebreaker is intradivision record. The Sox are 43-30 and the A’s 42-29.
• The last time the Pirates were in the playoffs, in 1992, Tim Wakefield was a rookie. That’s how long ago it was.
The Red Sox did a lot to help the Pirates this year. Mark Melancon is 3-2 with 16 saves and a 1.41 ERA over 71 appearances. He has a 0.91 WHIP.
Stolmy Pimentel appeared in four games after a solid minor league season. He has allowed two earned runs over 7.1 innings. They were the main pieces the Sox traded in the ill-fated Joel Hanrahan deal.
Catcher Mike McKenry was traded from the Sox to the Pirates in 2011. He has appeared in 41 games this season.
• Speaking of Hanrahan, he hasn’t been around the Red Sox since his surgery, and that probably indicates he’ll look to start over elsewhere once he’s healthy. Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller have been around. Both are arbitration-eligible. The Sox would seem likely to keep Miller, as he will be ready for spring training. Bailey looks like a non-tender, given that he may not return until next July.
• John McDonald is in line to receive playoff shares from the Indians, Pirates, and Red Sox.
• Does it strike anybody else as odd that Quintin Berry has attempted one stolen base since being activated Sept. 1? That’s it, one. He has been used as a pinch runner seven times, too.
Dave Roberts was 5 for 7 in the 2004 regular season for the Red Sox. They picked him up on July 31 that season.
• The Red Sox sold 94.4 percent of seats to their home games. That’s third in baseball behind the Giants and Cardinals. The Sox averaged 34,979 at home, down 2,588 from last season. So for all the carrying on about attendance, they did pretty well.
• Only an astute Red Sox fan will recall that the team briefly held the rights to righthanded pitcher David Carpenter.
When John Farrell decided to leave the Blue Jays for the Red Sox, the teams had to work out a compensation package. Last Oct. 21, the Red Sox traded Mike Aviles to Toronto for Carpenter, an undistinguished reliever who had appeared in 33 games during the 2012 season (30 for Houston, three for Toronto).
On Nov. 20, Carpenter was designated for assignment (along with Danny Valencia, Sandy Rosario, Ivan De Jesus, and Zach Stewart) so the Sox could open 40-man-roster spots for Alex Wilson, Christian Vazquez, Alex Hassan, Dan Butler, and Allen Webster.
The Braves claimed Carpenter off waivers on Nov. 30. The transaction went largely unnoticed at the time. But this year Carpenter has appeared in 54 games for Atlanta and has a 1.84 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, and is averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
• There are 26 pitchers with more saves than Koji Uehara. Outside of maybe Craig Kimbrel, is there one you’d prefer on the mound over him right now?
• Mike Napoli buys Matchbox cars and tapes them to a column near his locker every time he hits a home run. There are 23 of them, all lined up.
• Daniel Nava is 13th among all outfielders in OPS. You would have to think the Sox won’t do much to change how they handle left field next season.
• Here’s betting Ryan Dempster gets some big outs in the postseason. Farrell has what seems like unshakable faith in Junichi Tazawa, but Tazawa might not have much rope.
• The Sox must be happy those pesky Baltimore Orioles won’t make the playoffs. But they end the season with three games at Camden Yards, and Buck Showalter won’t let his team lie down.
• Rays manager Joe Maddon said in a very confident tone of voice Sept. 12 that he was looking forward to seeing the Red Sox in the playoffs. One way or another, he’ll probably be right.
• Thought the Red Sox ceremony for Mariano Rivera was fine, if a little bit too centered on his blowing a save many years ago. The best part of that day was seeing Rivera come in from the bullpen after the game was over and getting applauded by fans who had stuck around to do just that.
• My boss asked me to send him a list of the top 10 games this season. Feel free to email any suggestions you may have.
• Will the playoffs returning to Fenway Park give birth to the $75 parking space?
• Jacoby Ellsbury gets a qualifying offer for sure. But what of Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Even if he takes it, overpaying a catcher for one year isn’t such a bad thing with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart on the way.
• Dennis Eckersley was a resounding success on NESN filling in for Jerry Remy. He’ll do the playoffs for TBS with Don Orsillo, too. Here’s hoping they get the Red Sox series.
Fox should look at Eck to replace Tim McCarver. He’s that good.
• The NBA is talking about putting player nicknames on jerseys for some games this season, like “King James” or “The Truth.” Can’t ever see baseball doing that. But a “Big Papi” Red Sox road jersey would sell, right?
• Speaking of souvenirs, Uehara wears a red Nike T-shirt under his uniform that says, “Koji Uehera (19) Do My Best!” in English and Japanese on the front.
Hey, Nike, sell this shirt at Fenway Park. People would line up for it.
• OK, time to head for the park. Thanks for following the journey this season. Lots more to come.