Sox looking to stay out of last place in AL East

Sox looking to stay out of last place in AL East

TORONTO -- The Red Sox entered Sunday's series finale vs. the Blue Jays one percentage point ahead of Toronto for last place in the American League East.

While Boston in recent years has been accustomed to fighting for a playoff spot around this time of the season, the club is simply trying to avoid the basement in what has been a disappointing 2012 campaign.

"They're playing really good baseball," manager Bobby Valentine said about his team, which is on a two-game winning streak for the first time this month. "I'm sure they want to have as good a record as possible.

"I don't know if it's to avoid something, it's to move ahead and play well."

The Red Sox haven't finished in last place since the 1992 season and haven't won less than 80 games in a year since 1997. Boston would have to win 14 of its last 16 games to reach the 80-win mark.

Valentine thinks the team is going to finish the season strong and said that key players such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz are setting a positive example on other players down the stretch.

"Because they're stepping up, I think everybody else is following suit," Valentine said.