The Boston Red Sox were remarkable in the month of September and took control of what had been a tight American League East when they won 11 games in a row.

That streak enabled them to get the best of the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, and while they lost five of their final six games, they still won the division comfortably.

The Red Sox open the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians on the road, but they appear to have an edge over their hosts because of the powerful lineup that manager John Farrell has to unload.

The Red Sox scored an MLB-high 878 runs, and they have a powerful lineup that features Dustin Pedroia (201 hits; .318 batting average), David Ortiz (38 home runs), Mookie Betts (214 hits; 113 RBI) and Hanley Ramirez (30 HR; 111 RBI).

The Indians feature the slugging of former Red Sox Mike Napoli (34 home runs) and Carlos Santana (34 home runs), but it will be difficult for manager Terry Francona’s team to match Boston’s production.

Rick Porcello will start for the Red Sox, and the 22-game winner has an edge over 12-game winner Trevor Bauer. The Cleveland starter had a 4.26 earned run average, and he was hit hard by the Red Sox during the regular season—10 hits and six earned runs in six innings.

Prediction: The Red Sox are battle-tested and have won three World Series in the Ortiz era. With Big Papi retiring, the Red Sox should play their best baseball in October. It should be good enough to overcome Cleveland in Game 1 of the ALDS.


Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers

With one swing of Edwin Encarnacion’s powerful bat in the bottom of the 11th inning, the Toronto Blue Jays wiped out the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night and advanced to the ALDS against the American League West champion Texas Rangers.

These two teams have a colorful recent history. The Blue Jays eliminated the Rangers in last year’s ALDS in five games. Earlier this season, the Rangers’ Rougned Odor landed a right-hand punch to the jaw of Jose Bautista. That May brawl is a leading storyline of the series, as CBS Sports MLB noted:

Bautista had memorably flipped his bat after hammering the series-winning home run in the seventh inning of the final game of the 2015 ALDS.

There should be several gallons of bad blood along with two excellent teams competing in this series.

With Cole Hamels on the mound for the Rangers, the Blue Jays are going to have a difficult time trying to scratch out a win on the road. Hamels was 15-5 this year, and the Rangers were 53-28 at home with a remarkable 36-11 record in one-run games.

While Toronto manager John Gibbons has not named his starter as of Wednesday night, 20-game winner J.A. Happ is likely to get the call.

Prediction: The Blue Jays will make this an excellent series, but the Rangers are strong at home, and they will take Game 1 by jumping out to an early lead and building on it.

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