The Boston Red Sox earned a playoff berth for the third straight year on Tuesday, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 to clinch at least a wild card position.

Boston Red Sox Clinch
Brock Holt celebrates after hitting a home run in the seventh inning of the Boston Red Sox 7-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. (Image: Jim Davis/Boston Globe)

The Red Sox now have a league best 99-46 record, and are closing in on their franchise record of 105 wins in a season, which was set in 1912.

Red Sox Rolling in Dominant Season

Boston is likely to surpass that mark, as they still have 17 games to play this season. Barring a total collapse, they should also win the AL East, as they currently lead the New York Yankees by nine games in the division.

In short, the Red Sox have been nothing less than dominant this year, and manager Alex Cora sees big things for the team heading into the postseason.

“We know we’re in a great position to win the division and to accomplish other things,” Cora told the Boston Herald. “I told the group I’m very proud of them regardless of what’s going on around us, the winning streaks, the losing streaks, we stay together. They’re been very consistent as far as showing up every day and preparing for the game and playing the game. I’m very proud of that.”

Tuesday’s game provided some other good news for Red Sox fans, as Chris Sale returned to pitch for the first time since Aug. 12. Sale took on more of an “opener” role for the day, pitching only a single inning before heading out to the bullpen to throw a bit more. Sale gave up a double but also struck out two hitters in his inning of work.

“A little erratic, obviously,” Sale said of his start after the game. “Threw up my pitch count a little bit, which is why I didn’t get to go out for my second or third inning, but got some good work in, and I’ll move on from there.”

Sale’s return could make the Red Sox even more formidable heading into the playoffs. So far this season, the starter has a 12-4 record with a 1.96 ERA.

Boston, Houston Lead Pack of World Series Favorites

The Red Sox have been the best offensive team in baseball this year, leading the majors in batting average (.269), on-base percentage (.338) and slugging percentage (.454). But Boston’s success has also been powered by one of the league’s best pitching staffs: their 3.65 team ERA is second in the American League only to the Houston Astros (3.10). They are also second overall to Houston in run differential.

That means that whether you simply look at their record or their underlying numbers, the Red Sox appear to be the real deal. Bookmakers seem to agree: William Hill has the Red Sox listed as the World Series favorites, putting them at 10/3 to win a championship this year. That’s just ahead of the Astros (7/2), with the Dodgers (7/1), Cubs (7/1), Yankees (8/1) and Indians (9/1) trailing behind the two leading contenders.

But while the Red Sox may be favored, there is still a lot of work to do before Boston can capture their first World Series title since 2013.

“From the start of the year we talked about this day,” Sale told the Herald. “We’ve all been pulling from the same side of the rope and we’ve got a lot of good guys in this clubhouse, medical staff, coaching staff and players in this clubhouse, this is the first step in the right direction.”

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