BOSTON -- With the magic number at four entering Tuesday's game against the Orioles, the Red Sox could clinch the American League East title as soon as Wednesday.
There are two things the Red Sox can accomplish by continuing to win after they clinch. The first would be solidifying home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Boston currently leads the A's by 3 1/2 games for the best record in the AL.
The other motivation would be to win 100 games, something the Sox would need an 8-3 record the rest of the way to get. No Red Sox team has won 100 games since 1946.
"The best record obviously gives you home-field advantage through the playoffs once you get there," said manager John Farrell. "It is a balance, and we'll pick our spots to get guys off their feet as needed. But we also have two additional off-days before the season is out."
Not only do the Sox have the two off-days during the season, but they would have four additional down days between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason.
Farrell did say that John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz will pitch the final three regular-season games in Baltimore, though he hasn't committed to the order yet.
The Red Sox have two off-days next week, so the rotation order is very flexible for that final weekend.
"As the rotation plays out over the next three series prior to going into Baltimore, those three guys are going to be rested and available to pitch in that series," Farrell said. "We haven't mapped it out, who's going to start Friday, Saturday and Sunday there. We also have to balance two off-days next week and then the potential for those four days off [before the postseason] as well and not have a guy get too far away from a start. I mentioned those three guys, because they're all going to be eligible and rested going into Baltimore. What rotation they fall under, that's yet to be determined."
Depth on display during Ellsbury's absence
BOSTON -- To have their best chance at winning a World Series championship, the Red Sox would have Jacoby Ellsbury leading off and playing center field.
However, in the latest example of the depth of this year's team, Boston has managed to go 7-2 and score 7.8 runs per game since Ellsbury went down with a compression fracture in his right foot.
"Much like when we've missed [Shane Victorino] for a number of games or when we miss [Clay Buchholz] for a number of games, the depth continues to play out," said manager John Farrell.
Ellsbury, who hasn't spoken to the media since his injury, continues to make progress behind the scenes, but there's still no timetable on when he will resume baseball activities. At this point, it's all symptom-based.
"He continues his exercises coming out of the boot, and, again, it's consistent with what he's been doing since we returned off the road," said Farrell. "That includes pool work. That includes ground-based stuff in the weight room here. He remains in that same rehab program. Baseball activities are yet to be initiated. That hasn't changed our feel and our thought that he'll be back on the field before the regular season ends."
The regular season ends on Sept. 29.
• Although Will Middlebrooks has recovered from the flu that kept him out of Sunday's game, manager John Farrell elected to give him one more night off on Tuesday. Xander Bogaerts again started at third base.
"He was down on Sunday and we felt like today going through a normal work day, just to get his feet back on the ground, an additional day was needed," Farrell said. "He's available tonight. As a matter of fact, he feels fine, ready to go, but just feel like he needs a day of work before we get him back in there."
• In their final batch of September callups, the Red Sox added two pitchers (Steven Wright, Brayan Villarreal) and one position player (Brock Holt). All three players have already had at least one stint with the team this season. Boston's active roster is now at 36 players.
• Keeping in the spirit of their many bearded players this season, the Red Sox are offering $1 tickets for Wednesday's game to any fans who are sporting either real or fake beards. All bearded fans who are looking for those discounted tickets must enter Fenway Park through Gate E on Wednesday.
• Red Sox wives are holding a fashion show at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Prudential Center on Wednesday. It is the annual "From Fenway to the Runway" fund-raiser benefiting the Red Sox Foundation.
The event begins at 11:30 a.m. ET and includes lunch and a runway fashion show featuring the Red Sox wives. WCVB-TV anchor Liz Brunner will emcee the show, which includes a live auction with one-of-a-kind items donated by the players and their wives.
Red Sox wives and fiances who will take the stage include: Sue Farrell, Lindsay Buchholz, Kelli Pedroia, Tiffany Ortiz, Georgia Nua, Kimberly Doubront, Isabel Morales, Amanda Bailey, Kelsey Ellsbury, Laura Drew, DiDi Carp, Melissa Victorino, Kelly Shaffer (fiance of Craig Breslow ), and Jamie Niestat (fiance of Ryan Lavarnway ).
Red Sox Foundation Board members Linda Pizzuti Henry and Joan Alfond will also be in attendance along with Stacey Lucchino.