*I hope you'll forgive me for actually reading a Shaughnessy column. I was browsing the Globe's website and clicked on the title without any by line info. One paragraph in, I said to myself "Wait a second, this sounds like a Dan Shaughnessy column!"
It goes to show you how much head to head games can swing a tight playoff race between two teams. If Beckett and his balky ankle don't hold up well enough, and if the bullpen doesn't get back on track (first save since mid August!) we're looking at a two game lead with 12 games to go (and Shaughnessy has to change his pants). Instead, it is a four game lead. Again, not a sure thing, but if the Red Sox can pick up one more win this weekend (Lester v. Niemann is the appealing match up here, as David Price and Wakefield go head to head Sunday afternoon) that should wrap things up, especially given the fact that the Red Sox are playing 7 of their final 10 against the Orioles, while the Rays have 7 against the Yankees. I hope it isn't an exciting week and a half to close out the season, but even if it is, the odds are heavily tilted the Red Sox way.