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September 24, 2013

With East clinched, Red Sox want best record in AL

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have almost two weeks before their first playoff game, enough time to tweak their pitching rotation and nurse their injured players back to health.

And they won’t stop trying to win, either.

“We still want to play a good brand of baseball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the home finale when asked what his goals were over the last week of the season. “We don’t see the clinching of the division as a breather.

“It’s a matter of continuing on and playing a very sound brand of baseball.”

The Red Sox secured a playoff berth on Thursday and clinched the AL East the next night, but there’s plenty more to play for over their final five games. Mostly, the goal remains to earn the best record in the American League, a prize that would earn them a playoff matchup with the wild-card winner.

Entering Monday night’s games, the Red Sox held a 1½-game lead over AL West-champion Oakland and a 3½-game lead over the Central Division-leading Detroit. The division winner with the best record will play the surviving second place team, which will not only be fighting for a postseason berth through the end of the season but will have to use one of its best pitchers in a wild-card play-in game.

“We really want to get that best record; we want that for all stuff it means for playoffs,” outfielder Daniel Nava said. “We want that best record. We know what it means.”

The Red Sox were off on Monday before heading to Colorado for two games against the Rockies and then to Baltimore to finish the season with three games there. They will not begin the playoffs until Oct. 4 — a week from Friday — giving them time to line up their starting pitchers and rest any regulars who need it.

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