BOSTON (AP) — Two years after leaving in the middle of an unprecedented September collapse and one year after slinking away to finish the franchise’s worst season in half a century, the Boston Red Sox wrapped things up at Fenway Park with the knowledge that they will be back.
David Ortiz and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered to lead the Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over the last-place Toronto Blue Jays in Boston’s regular-season home finale Sunday. After a five-game road trip to Colorado and Baltimore, the Red Sox will return for the AL division series in October.
“The energy that’s created here and the way the guys embrace it, it has been our advantage once again,” manager John Farrell said. “We have heard a lot lately about the last couple of Septembers, but that has not penetrated the minds of anyone in this clubhouse.”
Three days after clinching a playoff berth, two days after securing the AL East title and one day after giving many starters the day off to sleep off the celebration, the Red Sox returned to winning. Boston took the three-game series — its 33rd series victory of the season — and finished 53-28 at home.
With 95 wins, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball and a lead in the race for home-field advantage through the World Series.
“We’re going out to win games and be aggressive,” said Felix Doubront, who made his first start since Sept. 6 and his last before moving to the bullpen to be ready for the playoffs. “We’ll try to go hard every game.”
Doubront (11-6) gave up two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out two. Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save.
Kevin Pillar homered and added an RBI single for Toronto. Reigning NL Cy Young-winner R.A. Dickey (13-13) allowed five runs on six hits and a walk, with a season-high 11 strikeouts in his third complete game of the season.
“He gives up fly balls. That’s part of being a knuckleballer,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “But he threw a tremendous game. Two home runs. You can’t take away the home runs. We battled, but we just couldn’t get anything going against Doubront.”
The Red Sox took the lead in the bottom of the second, when Dickey allowed three singles — two of them bloopers — and then Bradley’s three-run homer. Like Ortiz’s solo shot in the sixth, it was a high fly ball that got caught in the wind blowing out to right field.
“If a ball got up above the elevation of the roof, it was going,” Dickey said. “Those two got up and they kept going.”
Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Pillar’s single before Boston made it 4-1 in the bottom half. After the Blue Jays cut the lead to 4-2 on Pillar’s homer off the top of the Green Monster, Ortiz made it a three-run game with a towering shot into the Toronto bullpen.
Ortiz was also given a double in the third inning even though replays showed he slid into second baseman Ryan Goins’ glove and should have been out.
NOTES: Toronto’s Rajai Davis stole his 45th base of the season in the eighth. … The Red Sox unveiled a statue of Carl Yastrzemski outside the ballpark before the game. .. Red Sox manager John Farrell said he is optimistic CF Jacoby Ellsbury (broken bone in right foot) will be able to return Wednesday, in time to get ready for the playoffs. … The Red Sox won 95 games for the seventh time since 2003. … Toronto travels to Chicago for a makeup game Monday against the White Sox, then on to Baltimore. The Red Sox have a day off before playing two in Colorado and three in Baltimore. … Red Sox rookies were dressed in kilts and tam o’Shanters for the on-field family picnic after the game. … Farrell tweaked the rotation for the last series against Baltimore. Clay Buchholz will be followed by Jon Lester and John Lackey.