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09/16/12 1:19 PM ET

Sox looking to stay out of last place in AL East

TORONTO -- The Red Sox entered Sunday's series finale vs. the Blue Jays one percentage point ahead of Toronto for last place in the American League East.

While Boston in recent years has been accustomed to fighting for a playoff spot around this time of the season, the club is simply trying to avoid the basement in what has been a disappointing 2012 campaign.

"They're playing really good baseball," manager Bobby Valentine said about his team, which is on a two-game winning streak for the first time this month. "I'm sure they want to have as good a record as possible.

"I don't know if it's to avoid something, it's to move ahead and play well."

The Red Sox haven't finished in last place since the 1992 season and haven't won less than 80 games in a year since 1997. Boston would have to win 14 of its last 16 games to reach the 80-win mark.

Valentine thinks the team is going to finish the season strong and said that key players such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz are setting a positive example on other players down the stretch.

"Because they're stepping up, I think everybody else is following suit," Valentine said.

Valentine clarifies September roster comments

TORONTO -- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine took it upon himself Sunday to clear the air about comments he made before Friday's series opener vs. the Blue Jays.

During a pregame scrum with reporters on Friday, Valentine said, "This is the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball. We could use help everywhere."

On Sunday, Valentine clarified what he meant by those statements.

"The other day when I made a comment about our September roster, that wasn't meant to be a criticism of any players or anything in the organization," Valentine explained. "It's a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs. This is different. We have less people than most September rosters. We have less positions filled than any September roster I've ever seen before.

"Anybody who thought that to be anything other than a statement of what it was, stand corrected on that."

Boston has been bombarded by injuries this season, and with the PawSox playing in the Triple-A National Championship on Tuesday, the Red Sox don't have a lot of players to turn to.

Boston has had 27 different players on the disabled list this season for 34 separate stints, both of which are the most for a Red Sox team since at least 1971, and according to STATS, it is the most for any team in baseball since at least 1987.

Heading into Sunday's finale, Red Sox players have missed 1,415 games due to injury throughout the course of the year. Lefty Franklin Morales and third baseman Will Middlebrooks are out for the season, while David Ortiz and Ryan Sweeney are unlikely to return.

Valentine doesn't view this as a typical September roster due to the lack of depth on the team.

"Usually a September roster has some starting pitchers who are waiting in the wings. Ours doesn't," Valentine said. "Usually a September roster has some left-handed pinch-hitter-type guys, or pinch-runners, five or six outfielders. We have four outfielders.

"It's not like a September roster."

Salty looking to tie Fisk in Sox's records book

TORONTO -- Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is chasing Red Sox history down the final stretch of the regular season.

The backstop entered Sunday's finale against the Blue Jays with a career-high 24 homers, which is tied for the second most among Major League catchers this season. With two more blasts, Saltalamacchia would tie the club record for most homers by a catcher in a single season, held by Carlton Fisk, who launched 26 home runs in both 1973 and '77.

Saltalamacchia's 24 home runs are tied for the fourth most in a single season by a catcher in Red Sox history.

"It was brought to my attention. ... Obviously it would be a great accomplishment, but that's getting back into my old habits of trying to swing for the fence, and it never really worked out," Saltalamacchia said about chasing down Fisk's record.

"So I want the same approach and use the other way and continue to put good wood on the ball, and it's going to go."

A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox is the only catcher who has hit more home runs than Saltalamacchia this season.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.