After spending the past three seasons painfully watching the postseason from the outside, the Red Sox punched their playoff ticket.
A 3-1 win over an Orioles team that has dealt the Red Sox their share of September heartbreak the past two years guaranteed the Sox their first trip to the postseason since 2009.
Taking a no-hitter into the seventh, John Lackey put the Sox on his back in the finale of their three-game set with Os, giving up just one run on two hits in a complete game.
His bid for a no-hitter was broken up one out into the seventh when Adam Jones blasted a pitch well over the Monster to the parking lot across Lansdowne. In the end, though, Lackey got Jones to fly out to right field to seal the win and their playoff berth. The Sox spilled out of the dugout in a celebration that was muted but still apparent.
The Sox have now won 24 more games than they did a year ago, when they finished last in the American League East. Their next target is the division crown, which they haven’t won since 2007.