Boston Red Sox Josh Beckett walks to the dugout at the end of the seventh inning, during which the Baltimore Orioles scored two runs, in their MLB American League baseball at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 21, 2011.

It’s crunch time folks. Do or die for the Boston Red Sox over the final six games, including this weekend’s three-game set in the Bronx.

Tonight’s opponent, the New York Yankees were no help last night as they were whooped by the Tampa Bay Rays. Fortunately, the Red Sox got some help from the Toronto Blue Jays who beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in extra innings.

That means the Red Sox lead the Rays by two games and the Angels by three games. The magic number for the Red Sox to eliminate the Rays is five and it’s four for the Angels. Obviously, win all six games and the Red Sox are in. Go 5-1 and they’re in. Anything less from that and they’ll need some help.

Hopefully that help comes from the Blue Jays who play the Rays and the Oakland A’s who take on the Angels. After that, the Rays will finish up their season with the Yankees while the Angels end with the Texas Rangers. In case you didn’t know, the Red Sox will be in Baltimore for the final three games of the season against the same Orioles team that just came into the Fens and took three of the four games played.

Right now, the Red Sox need their starting pitching to step up. The aces, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, have been decent during this skid. The others though, not so bueno. The key for all of them is to get out of the first inning without putting the offense in to too much of a hole. Plus the longer they can go the better, as the bullpen has been severely overused this month and could use the break.

I know we’re all going to be sitting here on pins and needles for the next six days as we wait to see if the Red Sox can make the playoffs. The one thing we all need to remember is the fact that we are in the lead right now. It’s not like we’re out of it yet.

The way some people are talking out there, the Red Sox have already been eliminated and are making plans for the offseason. Sorry to burst your bubble but they aren’t there yet. Personally, I’m hoping that comes in November. But whatever happens, happens.

I know I’ll be supporting this team to the end.

Only one question remains then.

Will you???

We’ll be back later with tonight’s lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and any news from the day. But for now, enjoy the overnight links by click on the read more button below if you’re on the home page.

To open the links up in a new tab or window, use Control+click

Video: Alec Baldwin Pisses Himself Watching Red Sox-Yankees Game [SOX & Dawgs]

Spoiling for a fight [Boston Globe]

It starts with starters [Boston Globe]

They’re not worthy [Boston Globe]

Utilityman proving useful [Boston Globe]

It’s up to you, New York, New York [Boston Herald]

David Ortiz focused on now [Boston Herald]

Short-armed [Boston Herald]

Chris Capuano’s not coming to pitch in [Boston Herald]

Everything falls apart [Boston Herald]

It all starts on mound [Boston Herald]

Nation STATion: Sox have inherited problems [CSN New England]

Red Sox still have 91.5 percent chance to make playoffs [CSN New England]

Did Ortiz, Papelbon play final game at Fenway? [CSN New England]

Gammons: Francona’s job may be in jeopardy [CSN New England]

No more outside help for Red Sox [CSN New England]

Video: State of the Nation with Gordon Edes [ESPN Boston]

Buchholz wants shot at No. 3 starter spot [ESPN Boston]

Video: Kurkjian thinks Sox will hold on [ESPN Boston]

3-way tie would create logistical headache [ESPN Boston]

Video: PTI’s great collapse debate [ESPN Boston]

Clay Buchholz moving forward after feeling ‘spring training sore’ [Full Count]

Dustin Pedroia: Red Sox playing like a ‘[crappy] team’ [Full Count]

‘Hi, my name is Jonathan Papelbon, and I am an adrenaline junkie’ [Full Count]

Will Jackie Bradley Jr. play with Greenville Drive in 2012? []

Video: Red Sox Could Use Another Herb Brooks ‘Miracle’ Speech by Joshua Sacco This Weekend []

Red Sox Fall Flat at Fenway Park in 2011, Despite Traditional Dominance at Home []

Potential Three-Way Tie For American League Wild Card Could Get Messy []

Rain in the Forecast For This Weekend’s Red Sox-Yankees Series []

Heidi Watney Takes In View From New Roof Deck at Jerry Remy’s Across From Fenway Park []

Red Sox Mailbag: Playing the Blame Game, the Alfredo Aceves Dilemma and Daniel Bard as a Starter []

Red Sox’ Rotation Uncertain for Remainder of Season While Rays, Angels Have Pitching Set Up for Final Push []

Red Sox had no insurance for their stockpile of starting pitching [Providence Journal]

Three-way wildcard scenario tough to figure out [Providence Journal]

Stunned Red Sox try to regroup on road []

Red Sox Will Still Make Playoffs, But Clinching to Set Up Rotation Now Top Priority [Tom Caron –]

For more slices of Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSNNEESPN Boston, NESN, Providence Journal, and WEEI websites.

Follow Ian on Twitter @soxanddawgs. And be sure to like us on Facebook as well.

Photo credit: Reuters Pictures