BOSTON -- The Red Sox haven't won anything yet, but their 8 1/2-game lead over the Rays in the American League East entering Saturday leaves them in good position to avoid the dreaded one-game Wild Card playoff game.
Manager John Farrell feels for whichever teams have to put a 162-game season on the line in one game.
"There's probably two views," Farrell said. "I think in Spring Training, yeah I'll sign up for a one-game play-in at the time of Spring Training.
"And then you get through it and you've gone 162 games, you hate to see a season in the balance of one game. We're not going to change the rules, but there's an awful lot that goes into a nine-inning game."
Farrell said he hasn't begun speculating as to which teams the Red Sox might face in the playoffs, but as a fan of the game, he's excited to see the playoff race.
"I can't imagine what the final week of the season is going to be like," he said. "I think the second Wild Card has really played into that, the meaning to every game played throughout that final week is heightened. And this year it might be tenfold where it was a year ago."
Ellsbury progressing from foot injury
BOSTON -- There was minor progression regarding Jacoby Ellsbury's comeback from a compression fracture in his right foot on Friday, but the Red Sox remain unsure when their speedy center fielder and leadoff man will be able to return to the lineup.
The team is still restricting him from doing any baseball activity.
Ellsbury is taking baby steps in his recovery, the first of which will be made this weekend, as he's been cleared to do some physical activity.
"He comes out of the boot for a period of time for some exercises, some work in the pool," manager John Farrell said.
The swelling has at least gone down, according to Farrell. Ellsbury was getting treatment Friday afternoon and was again unavailable to reporters.
The plan of recovery has been laid out by the medical staff, though Farrell said it all revolves around Ellsbury's tolerance as progression continues.
Earlier this week, Farrell said he was hopeful Ellsbury would return at some point before the postseason.
Until then, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been the primary center fielder. The Sox's No. 2 prospect is 3-for-17 with two walks, five strikeouts and two runs scored in Ellsbury's absence.
With Ellsbury a free agent at the end of the season, Bradley, who is viewed as the center fielder of the future, is getting a chance to prove himself in the season's final weeks.
Unlike last season, Sox thriving at Fenway
BOSTON -- The Red Sox returned to Fenway Park on Friday to start their final homestand of the 2013 regular season. All it takes is a look back to last year's results to appreciate this year's a little bit more.
On Sept. 26, 2012, the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 4-2, to finish with a record of 34-47 at Fenway Park, the team's worst home record in 47 years.
The fans responded by not showing up in the early parts of the 2013 seasons, ending the team's longstanding sellout streak on the second home game of the year.
The Sox responded by playing their best baseball at home.
After Friday's 8-4 win over the Yankees, the Red Sox are 48-25 at home, the best home record in the American League and second in baseball to the Braves' 51-21 mark.
"One thing that stands out is our guys respond to the environment in here," manager John Farrell said. "Anytime you come off the road, either after a long road trip, the energy that's created in here, our guys thrive on.
"I'm not going to say we do things differently from an offensive standpoint, to play the ballpark, but I think our guys love playing in this ballpark, this city and in front of these people."
Ironically, the Sox have had more success against the Yankees in New York, where they went 7-3 against them this year, compared to 4-3 against them in Boston.
• The Red Sox picked up their 90th win of the season Friday. It marked the fifth time in the past seven years since the 2007 World Series team that the Red Sox have won at least 90 games. The club has already increased its win total by 21 from last year, marking the franchise's largest increase in wins during a full season since 1946, when the Sox increased their win total by 33.
• One day after Jake Peavy took a line drive to his right wrist, manager John Farrell said Friday there was nothing to worry about. Peavy expected he would be fine after X-rays came back negative Thursday night, and Farrell said that there was no lingering effect.
• Essentially, the Red Sox are currently operating with a six-man rotation, but that could eventually be cut to four as the playoffs near. Farrell said they'll make that decision when they have to, though he suggested they could either trim a pitcher from the playoff roster to make room for an extra position player or send one of their starters who has experience working out of relief to the bullpen.
• Triple-A Pawtucket is still playing in the International League playoffs, but the Red Sox expect to add more bodies to the big league club when the PawSox's season ends.
• Closer Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth Friday and has retired 37 consecutive batters faced, the longest stretch in club history and longest for any reliever since Bobby Jenks retired 41 straight batters in 2007. According to SABR, Jenks' streak is the longest for a reliever.