The Red Sox and Yankees have identical records with eight games remaining.
1. Tito used the bullpen just as I would have -- Hansen, Papelbon, Timlin -- so even though Hansen gave up a game-tying home run to Melvin Mora in the seventh, bringing him in was the right move. And it was good to see Francona stay with him after that; the Sox are going to rely on him in the playoffs, so getting him used to the pressure now is essential.
2. On Edgar Renteria's two-run single off BJ Ryan in the ninth, pinch-runner Adam Stern got a fantastic read on the flair to left and was sprinting all the way. From second base, Stern had the play directly in front of him, and he scored what turned out to be the decisive run. Nice to see ER gearing up for a hot post-season, too.
3. Pitching: Matt Clement didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning, but he walked six. I can't completely fault him for that, because the umpiring was incredibly inconsistent. ... Papelbon v. Matos in the eighth. With a man on first and one out in a 2-2 game, this AB took nine pitches and five throws to first before Boston got a K-CS double play.
4. Defense. The Sox made some great plays, including Kevin Millar diving to his right to snare Bernie Castro's grounder in the fifth, then turning and diving to his left to tag the base for the out, Bill Mueller's bare-handed grab-and-gun on Tejada's roller in the ninth, and double plays that ended both the fifth and sixth innings.
5. The last three innings really felt like a playoff game. Knowing the Yankees had lost meant my heart was racing a little more and my hands were a little sweatier. Myers coming in for Hansen with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the seventh and getting a pop-up was huge. Timlin's semi-shaky ninth -- a two-out double to Gibbons which scored Castro, who had walked -- had me worried, but he retired Javy Lopez on a hard fly to the edge of the track in right to end it.
In the last two games, we've seen timely hitting and gutsy pitching. Have the Sox refound their groove? ... This team can go from great to godawful in the space of a day or even a few innings, so who knows? They just have to have a win at the end of the day. It doesn't matter how they get it.
In Toronto, the Jays battered the Yankees for seven runs in two innings. Jaret Wright allowed all seven runs while recording only three outs. Miguel Batista struck out Jason Giambi with the tying runs on base in the 8th, then struck out the side in the 9th, saving a 7-4 win. ... Cleveland romped over the Royals, but we're winning the East, so we'll let New York worry about that.
Wang / Towers at 1:00, then Wells / Maine at 1:35.