BOSTON - With their 9-5 win over the New York Yankees Wednesday night at Fenway, the Red Sox took a 1.5-game lead in the AL East.
Additionally, the win extended their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, who are in second place for the Wild Card, to nine games.
With 27 games to go, the Sox would have to completely fall apart to miss the playoffs.
So, short of the wheels falling off when the regular season race comes to an end, it's time for Boston to start peaking towards a playoff game plan.
Obviously, Josh Beckett, who was the winning pitcher against New York Wednesday, and Jon Lester, who will take the ball Thursday night, will be the first two pitchers to climb the hill once the playoffs get underway.
Behind them though, a debate has surfaced about whether it should be John Lackey or Erik Bedard taking the ball for Game 3.
The final month of the season will help the Red Sox determine who to go with, but as of now a case could be made for or against either player.