Boston Red Sox Clinch Playoff Berth with 3-1 Win over Baltimore Orioles

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

The Boston Red Sox have pulled off the improbable, going from last place in the American League East in 2012 to the MLB playoffs in 2013 to secure their first postseason trip since 2009.

Still comfortably in first over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, Boston officially clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night at Fenway.

A Red Sox win or a Cleveland loss wrapped up a playoff spot, and Boston took care of business at home.

The story of the night was John Lackey's complete game. The right-hander carried a no-hitter into the seventh before Orioles outfielder Adam Jones connected on a solo home run with one out in the inning.

Lackey allowed only one run on two hits over nine innings, and struck out eight batters compared to only two walks.

The Red Sox got on the board in the second inning and never looked back. Shortstop Stephen Drew hit a two-run homer from the No. 8 slot in the lineup, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia added a run with an RBI single later in the inning.

For a team that had as many wins as the Miami Marlins (69) last season, spirits and optimism were not high in spring training. Last year's huge deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers shocked the baseball world, but the Red Sox hired John Farrell as manager, made some key offseason acquisitions, got healthy and everything has fallen into place in 2013.

Boston will now focus on clinching the AL East. The Red Sox have held the division lead since the end of July and had an 8.5-game lead over the Rays going into the contest. The magic number to clinch the division is at two and could be down to one by the end of the night.