Red Sox playoff watch

Every day between now and the end of the regular season, we'll check in on where things stand in the playoff race.

Red Sox record: 89-58.

Games left: 15

Lead in AL East: 9½ games over Tampa Bay (78-66)

Magic number to win division: 8

What does magic number mean? If Tampa Bay wins all 18 of its remaining games, Boston would have to win 8 to win the division.

How to calculate magic number: You calculate your magic number by looking at the number of games remaining in the season and assuming that your nearest competitor will win all of their remaining games. Then you see how many games you still need to win to ensure the division title even with your nearest competitor winning all of their remaining games.

Overall ranking in league (important for determining home field in playoffs): First, 4 games ahead of Oakland, 4½ games ahead of Detroit, 7 ahead of Texas.

If season ended today, teams in playoffs: Sox, Tigers, Athletics, Rangers, Rays.

What about the Yankees? Beat the Orioles, 5-4, to pull within one game of Rays in wild-card race. The Yankees had just four hits, but three were home runs, including Robinson Cano’s 27th that broke a 3-all tie in the ninth. Yankees shut down Derek Jeter for the season; the captain played just 17 games after leading the majors in plate appearances last season with 740. "I think it's important that we don't put him in position to have further damage," GM Brian Cashman said. "So today I met with Derek and told him this is what we've decided to do. Obviously it's not an easy situation."

Who’s hot?: The Royals are 8-3 in September, just a half-game behind the Red Sox for best record in the AL this month, and now head into Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers, their second series in a week against the AL Central leaders. The Royals took two of three from the Tigers in Kansas City, and will send Bruce Chen against Justin Verlander on Friday night. Chen held the Tigers to two runs in seven innings in his last start and has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last three starts.

Who’s not?: The Rangers have lost 8 of their last 10 after being swept three straight by the Pirates in the Ballpark at Arlington. Trading deadline acquisition Matt Garza lost his third straight decision and has a 7.36 ERA in two September starts, allowing 8 earned runs in 11 innings.

Red Sox latest outcome: Beat the Rays, 7-3, in 10 innings on Wednesday.

Rays latest outcome: Lost to the Red Sox, 7-3, in 10 innings on Wednesday.

Notable: While the Red Sox scored six runs with the bases loaded Wednesday on Mike Napoli’s two-run double and Mike Carp’s grand slam, the Rays are 0-for-12 in their last 12 chances with the bases loaded, failing twice Wednesday. "It doesn't get any worse than this. It feels like a punch in the gut," Rays starter Alex Cobb said. "We're at the low point of this season right now. It can only go up from here."

Playoff format: AL wild-card play-in game on Wednesday, Oct. 2. AL best-of-five division series begins Friday, Oct. 4.