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  W: B. Anderson (2-2)   L: D. Pomeranz (16-6)   S: R. Osuna (38)
4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, September 25, 2017
Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts  Attendance: 33,940

Red Sox, inching toward division title, start series with Jays

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz can't pitch the Boston Red Sox Red Sox into an American League East championship with a win over the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.

However, the left-hander can bring his team to the brink.

The Red Sox enter the final week of the regular season with a magic number of three. Any combination of Boston wins and losses by the New York Yankees adding up to three and the Red Sox will have back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history -- and the Yankees, currently five games out, would play in the AL wild-card game.

Boston finishes with seven straight games at home, the last four against the Houston Astros, a likely opponent in the American League Division Series -- with the chance of having nine straight games against the same team.

"We love Fenway Park," Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday before his team finished off an 8-1 road trip by completing a sweep of a three-game series in Cincinnati. "Our guys thrive on the environment there. We've had a good year there from a record standpoint.

"Our team's built for that ballpark. It'll be good to get home and sleep in our own beds. To get back home, to play in Fenway, it'll be good to finish the regular season there."

No pitcher on Farrell's staff has enjoyed Fenway more than Pomeranz, who takes a 9-2 record and 3.11 ERA at home as he faces Brett Anderson on Monday night.

Chris Sale gets the hype, but Pomeranz, 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA against Toronto this season, also has been a rock in the rotation.

Pomeranz (16-5, 3.15 ERA) is 13-2 with a 2.61 ERA in his past 22 starts and is 7-1 with a 2.62 in 13 starts since the All-Star break. He has allowed three runs on 12 hits over 18 1/3 innings in his past three starts.

The last-place Blue Jays just took two out of three from the Yankees and are making their second trip to Fenway this month.

Jose Bautista, 36, had two hits in what was likely his final home game at Toronto on Sunday, his teammates waiting in the dugout as he took the field alone for the first inning. The Blue Jays are expected to decline Bautista's $17 million option for 2018.

"The focus was Jose today -- what he's done in this town, for this organization and really the country," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He helped rebuild the team. He was the face of the franchise for a number of years, and he did it the right way."

The Jays are just 4-12 against the Red Sox this season -- and Anderson (3-4, 7.15 ERA overall) is coming off a terrible start.

After fighting a blister in his previous outing, he lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up eight runs on seven hits on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals. He is 5-4 with a 3.32 ERA against the Red Sox lifetime (0-1 this year) -- 2-2 with a 5.54 in five career starts at Fenway.

By the way, the two lefties, Pomeranz and Anderson, were once traded for each other.

The current Jays roster has a cumulative .198 batting average against Pomeranz. Justin Smoak is 4-for-9 (.444) and Darwin Barney 4-for-12 (.333), but Steve Pearce is 0-for-7, Josh Donaldson 1-for-12 (.083), Kendrys Morales 1-for-8 (.125) and Kevin Pillar 2-for-13 (.154).

Bautista, however, has hit 25 homers in 72 career games at Fenway.

For the Red Sox, Mitch Moreland is 3-for-8 (.375) and Dustin Pedroia 6-for-18 (.333) against Anderson. The current Red Sox are 16-for-50 (.320) against Anderson, but without a homer and with just one RBI.

Updated September 25, 2017

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