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Red Sox 6, Astros 3: The Red Sox are your 2017 American League East champions

The division is finally clinched.

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Well, it took longer than any of us would have liked but the Red Sox finally picked up a victory on Saturday afternoon and with it they clinched the division. Thanks to a huge start from Drew Pomeranz, who many were hoping wouldn’t have to pitch this game, the Red Sox picked up the victory and claimed their second consecutive AL East championship, a feat they had never previously accomplished in franchise history. It’s been a really rough week for the Red Sox, but they got a little bit of everything from the team in this game. Pomeranz was outstanding despite his velocity noticeably dropping as the day went on. The bullpen came through with some big performances, most notably being David Price in a massively high-pressure spot. The offense also got some big swings when they needed them to give them enough of a cushion.

Pomeranz’ start was the biggest aspect of this victory for the Red Sox, and given how poorly the rotation has been doing of late — including Pomeranz himself in his last outing — the team needed a positive development from their starter. He did just that, shutting down the Astros’ potent offense through his six innings of work. The first inning has been the killer for Boston all week, as they’ve been burying themselves in early deficits in seemingly every game. This time, there was no stress at the top of the game with the southpaw getting an easy 1-2-3 first to set the right tone.

From here, it was just pure domination with the help of his defense behind him. In all, Pomeranz only allowed four runners to reach base and the Astros really only threatened in a few innings. They did get their leadoff man in the second, but the Red Sox lefty quickly took care of that issue with a double play ball to the next batter. The third was probably the most stressful inning of the day as, with two outs, Pomeranz allowed an infield single and a walk to put two on for the heart of Houston’s order. He came through with a big pitch to Alex Bregman in that situation, fortunately, and got a pop up to end the inning.

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

On the other side of things, the Red Sox offense had some problems with Lance McCullers early in this game. The Houston starter has some trouble with consistency and he’s coming off an injury that has limited his recent outings, but as we saw on Saturday the young righty has some dynamic stuff when he’s on. The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in each of the first two innings before getting their first hit on a single in the third, though that was all they’d get in that inning.

Finally, in the fourth, things started to turn Boston’s way. After a quick first out, Mookie Betts came through with a walk and then moved over to second on a wild pitch. Mitch Moreland followed that up with a walk of his own before Hanley Ramirez got a single to put the Red Sox on the board and give them a 1-0 lead. That brought up Rafael Devers, and on the first pitch he smashed a double to score one and put two runners in scoring position with just one down. Unfortunately, the Red Sox couldn’t keep the rally going and left the inning with a 2-0 lead.

Pomeranz, with a new lead given to him, immediately walked the first batter he faced, but the defense was there to pick him up from there. With one out, Cameron Maybin hit a hard-hit ground ball into the hole on the left side, but Bogaerts made a huge diving stop and had a quick transfer to get the lead runner at second. In the next at bat, Maybin attempted a steal of second and got a great jump but a perfect throw from Christian Vazquez gunned him down to end the inning.

In the fifth, the Red Sox padded their lead a little bit to support their starter. Bogaerts started the rally with a one-out double before Andrew Benintendi came through with a single to give the Red Sox their third run. After Betts followed that up with a single, a double steal put two runners in scoring position. McCullers was lifted in favor of the left-handed Tony Sipp to face Moreland, but the Red Sox first baseman hit a huge double into the left-center field gap and drove in both runners to give Boston a 5-0 lead.

Pomeranz would come back for a 1-2-3 sixth, and then Farrell decided to go back to him to start the seventh. On the one hand, the lefty had been getting great results all day and was at only 80 pitches. On the other hand, his velocity was dropping quickly and this is clearly a must-win game. After allowing a leadoff single, Farrell lifted Pomeranz for Carson Smith.

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Things did not get off to a good start for the righty. Carlos Correa barely made contact but his nubber towards third base was weakly hit enough to get him on first base. That brought up Evan Gattis, whose single into right field drove in Houston’s first run of the game. Smith then allowed a ripped single to Yuli Gurriell to score one more run and that was it for him.

So, it was up to David Price in his first appearance on back-to-back days and he was brought into a doozy of a situation with a 5-2 lead, two runners on and nobody out. Brian McCann was up first and he ripped it to the right side, but Moreland deflected it and Brock Holt made a great leaping stop on the deflection to recover and get the out at first while saving a run in the process. Maybin was up next and Price got a massive strikeout for the second out of the inning. Price would then walk the next batter to load the bases, and after some weird miscommunication with the bullpen Price was left in to face George Springer, and he came through with a massive strikeout to end the inning with the Red Sox still leading 5-2.

Betts decided he didn’t like that the lead was only three and in the first at bat of the seventh he launched a fastball into the Monster Seats to put Boston up four. That brought in Addison Reed, and with some help from his defense in the form of a nice pick at first base by Moreland and a leaping snag by Deven Marrero (who came in as a defensive replacement for Devers), Reed was able to get through a scoreless inning.

With the Red Sox going down scoreless in the ninth, it was up to Craig Kimbrel to hold on to the lead in the ninth. After starting things off with a strikeout, Kimbrel got to two strikes against McCann but then gave him a fastball up in the zone that the Astros catcher was ready for. He launched it out to the right field corner for a solo home run to cut the led to three. Kimbrel let another pitch catch a little too much of the plate to Maybin, who smacked it off the Monster for a one-out double. Kimbrel finished it out from there, though, and the Red Sox got the win and clinched the division. It wasn’t easy, but it never is.

The first goal for every team heading into the year is winning the division, and the Red Sox did just that. Now, after a well-earned celebration today and tonight and what should be a fun hangover lineup on Sunday, all eyes are on the ALDS. The division is nice, but now the goal is the ALCS and beyond. Let’s do it.