Playoff spot is not quite in hand yet. Paul Doyle looks at a clunker last night by Burkett and the Sox. Jeff Horrigan looks at a rough outing by Burkett. Bob Hohler says there was no magic on the mound for Burkett last night. Kevin McNamara notes Burkett wasn’t “over keyed” for the game. Funny line by Burkett who says: “What am I going to do? Throw 86 or 87 (mph)?” (As opposed to 83) Kevin Gray looks at a clincher put on hold. Lenny Megliola looks at the Orioles playing spoiler, at least for a night. Michael Silverman looks at the case for David Ortiz, AL MVP. Dan Shaughnessy says the champagne is on ice, ready to be opened. Peter May looks at a very short night for Burkett. Kevin McNamara looks at David Ortiz’s Yaz-circa-1967-like streak. Shira Springer also looks at Ortiz. Horrigan has an interesting Ghost Story, as told by Scott Williamson, who had the experience at the hotel the Sox will be staying at in St. Petersburg. Jim Fennell has a mini-feature on Lou Gorman, with a look inside his Fenway office. Megliola writes about Johnny Pesky speaking up about Grady Little returning next year. Silverman looks at a strong effort by the bullpen last night. Howard Bryant says in his pay column today that the missed chance is no big deal, and actually pretty typical of this team, which has had so many big losses and then even bigger wins. Michael Gee also has a pay column and attempts to talk reason. He says:

Superstition is what the ignorant use to explain events they can't or won't understand. The Dead Fat Outfielder Theory has no bearing on this or any other postseason.

The Sox haven't won a title since 1918 for one reason. They were never good enough. Boston's lost nine playoff series since then. In all but one (the 1946 World Series), the Sox were underdogs, often prohibitive underdogs.

He notes the Sox won’t be prohibitive underdogs this year, their only problems might be the bullpen and not having homefield advantage until the World Series. But those have nothing to do with “foreordained doom.” Springer also looks at the Sox propensity for late inning heroics. Peter May asks some of the Orioles about the Red Sox/A’s first round playoff matchup. Hohler’s notebook looks at the batting race. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Trot Nixon and his calf muscle needing some more time to heal. Krasner’s notebook also looks at Trot. Doyle’s notebook looks at Ortiz.

Nick Cafardo says that Tom Brady measures high on the GTM. (Grogan Toughness Meter) Michael Felger looks at a prideful group of Patriots who want to get back onto the field and play, despite any pain they may be in from injuries. Tom Curran looks at Ty Law as one of those who will be play through his injury. Alan Greenberg also looks at Law, trying to get back up to speed to take on Laveranues Coles. Christopher Price says that the Redskins have a pretty good defense of their own. Mike Reiss says the says point to the Patriots switching back to a 4-3 defense. Hector Longo says the time has come for the Patriots to open up the playbook, score in bunches, time for Tom Brady to “prove” his worth. Ed Gray looks at Brady and his elbow. George Kimball has a pay column trying to figure out why Troy Brown isn’t getting the ball and is off to a slow start. Cafardo’s notebook looks at the lengthy injury report. Felger’s notebook looks at whether Wilbert Brown will spill all he knows about the Redskins offense. Curran’s notebook looks at what base defense the Patriots will play on Sunday, and for the rest of the season.

NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 7:00. ESPN has Nebraska/Southern Miss. College football at 7:30.