9/25/2013 1:19 A.M. ET
Red Sox trying to stave off A's for best record
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
DENVER -- Despite losing, 8-3, to the Rockies on Tuesday night, the Red Sox's lead for the best record in the American League -- and thus, home-field advantage throughout the postseason -- remains at one game over the Athletics.
Even though they have the AL East locked up, manager John Farrell the final four games will keep his team focused.
"I think it helps without a doubt," Farrell said. "Before we started September, one of the things we looked at was [the] difficulty to our schedule, and I thought that was a bonus. We knew we were going to be challenged not only by coming out here to Colorado, but the teams that we were playing, where we were in relation to everybody else in the division and it's maybe kept us accountable to our daily work and preparation because of the opponents we were playing."
Aside from the advantage of opening each postseason series at home, the team with the best record in the AL would play the winner of the Wild Card play-in game, rather than the Detroit Tigers.
"I think the fact that we would be able to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, evident by the way we played at home and the way our guys embrace our environment, it would be a very good thing," said Farrell.
The Red Sox own the best home record in the AL at 53-28.
The Red Sox have one game in Colorado, followed by three final regular-season games in Baltimore against the Orioles.
The A's also finish their schedule on the road, with one game in Anaheim and three at Seattle.
If the Sox and A's finish with the same record, Oakland would win the tiebreaker, according to research done by the A's media relations staff.
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and the teams split their six games. The second tiebreaker is games within the division, and if the teams finish with identical records, the best Boston could do is tie Oakland in that category. Ditto for the third category, which is games within the AL.
The fourth tiebreaker is the last half of games (71) against AL competition, and the A's would finish with a better record in that category no matter what.
"We are also in a position where we control our own destiny," Farrell said. "The rules are the rules. The schedule is not going to be fair to everybody. Everybody plays 162, but the fact is we played more games than anyone before the All-Star break, so you can say that might be a benefit on our part to get off-days late in the season. Hopefully it doesn't come into play."
Farrell still mum on postseason rotation
DENVER -- Whether or not Red Sox manager John Farrell knows what his rotation will be for the American League Division Series, which will start on Oct. 4 at Fenway Park, he is not ready to announce it yet.
Instead, Farrell will make sure each of his starters get through their final turns in the rotation without any hitches.
"We'll probably wait until we get through the weekend and then we have our discussions a little bit more in depth," Farrell said.
Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey are starting the final three regular-season games.
Given the way Lester has pitched down the stretch, he would seem to be the most likely choice for Game 1.
Lackey's numbers are far better at home (6-3, 2.47 ERA) than on the road (4-9, 4.39 ERA), which could lead to Farrell giving him the ball in Game 2.
Buchholz and Jake Peavy would probably pitch Games 3 and 4 in that order.
Roster decisions loom for Red Sox
DENVER -- As these final five games unfold, the Red Sox will have some things to think about when it comes to the American League Division Series roster.
Assuming the club goes with 11 pitchers, that would leave room for five bench players.
Four of them are all but certain in Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Mike Carp and Xander Bogaerts. The fifth position player spot would seem to be between Quintin Berry, John McDonald and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Berry offers a pure stolen-base threat. Bradley has some speed, and he also brings a very strong glove in the outfield. McDonald, who is probably the underdog among the three, can play all over the infield.
"That's part of the greater discussions that we have as we kind of walk through any potential moves, any potential pinch-hit situations," said Farrell. "Who's available to give us further options if we choose to go to someone in the fifth or sixth inning? Do we have someone later on to hold back and cover us positionally? Those are all the conversations that are starting right now."
Then there is the bullpen, where there are probably seven spots available. Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, Brandon Workman and Ryan Dempster seem to be definites.
Then there are the bubble candidates, which include four lefties -- Matt Thornton, Felix Doubront, Franklin Morales and Drake Britton.
Ellsbury appears on track to start Wednesday
DENVER -- Jacoby Ellsbury passed every test on Tuesday and is on track to make his return to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Rockies.
This will be Ellsbury's first game action since Sept. 5. He suffered a compression fracture of his fight foot on Aug. 28 and initially tried to play through it.
"He's likely to be in the lineup tomorrow in center field, leading off," said manager John Farrell.
Ellsbury will probably be removed after three at-bats.
"Looking forward to getting on the field. It should be fun," said Ellsbury.
With Ellsbury's return looming, Dustin Pedroia moved out of the leadoff spot, where he had been hitting of late, and was restored to the No. 3 spot in the batting order.
Shane Victorino led off Tuesday's game.