The Red Sox can sew up a playoff spot tonight, and they are going into their series opener against the Orioles with that in mind.
With a win and an Indians loss to Kansas City, they would punch their playoff ticket. As it stands, their magic number for clinching the AL East is 4.
“I think guys are aware,” said manager John Farrell. “Very much aware.
“The beauty is to separate things they have no control over other than what we do between the lines tonight. That’s been the mantra since spring training.”
It’s been four years since the team’s last trip to the postseason, and since then, there have been more downs than ups.
But with 92 wins this year, being 33 games over .500, and spending 145 days atop the American League East, their turnaround has been dramatic.
A few notes before first pitch:
• Farrell said Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Clay Buchholz will all be available to pitch in the season-ending series against the Orioles next week.
He desperately avoids explicit references to the postseason — preferring to call it simply “that time” — and said that he hasn’t thought yet about a playoff rotation.
“As the rotation plays out over the next three series prior to Baltimore, those are three guys who are going to be available and rested in that series,” Farrell said. “We haven’t mapped it out as to who will start Friday, Saturday, or Sunday then.
“We have to factor in off days next week and potential for those four days off. We don’t want to get guys too far away from a start. What rotation they fall under has yet to be determined.”
• Felix Doubront threw a simulated game earlier this afternoon and is scheduled to pitch Saturday.
In the Sox’ final series at Fenway this weekend against the Toronto Blue Jays, Farrell will go with Lester on Friday, Doubront on Saturday and, Buchholz on Sunday.
• Since fracturing his foot, Jacoby Ellsbury has been a ghost in the clubhouse. Not much has been seen or heard from him.
Farrell said Ellsbury is continuing to do the exercises he began last week but can’t project when he’ll resume baseball activities.
Still, Farrell is optimistic about his center fielder’s return.
“That hasn’t changed our feel or thought that he’ll be back on the field before the season ends,” Farrell said.
• Will Middlebrooks was on the field earlier today taking ground balls, just not where you’d expect him to be.
The Sox third baseman was on the other side of the infield, getting reps at second base.
Should something unexpected — and unlikely — happen to Dustin Pedroia in the postseason, Middlebrooks is an option, Farrell said.
“Will has been the guy we’ve pointed to at second base,” Farrell said. “Depending on how that playoff roster looks, that job is still open.”
• With the PawSox wrapping up their season over the weekend, the parent club brought up infielder Brock Holt and pitchers Brayan Villarreal, and Steven Wright.
The moves bring the active big league roster up to 36.