I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't really feel too strongly about whether the Sox take the Wild Card vs. the AL East. Obviously, winning the division would be awesome, but the Yankees are in a 63-33 run, which is pretty damn hard to compete with, and losing serious ground to a team like that does not constitute a choke. Check out this piece of ridiculousness comparing the Sox 2007 season to 1978. Note that the words "wild" and "card", which are kind of important when discussing the playoffs, don't appear until about 3/4 of the way down.
Just about the only argument that makes any sense why the Sox "need" to win the division is the home field advantage that comes with it. So: does it matter? The Sox offense is way better at home (AL rank in parentheses):
HOME: .295 BA (4th), .378 OBP (2nd), .459 SLG (3rd), .838 OPS (2nd), 71 HR
AWAY: .263 BA (10th), .344 OBP (3rd), 419 SLG (6th), .763 OPS (6th), 80 HR
But check out their pitching stats:
HOME: 4.18 ERA (6th), 2.50 K/BB (4th), .261 BAA (5th), .726 OPSA (5th)
AWAY: 3.57 ERA (1st, by a lot), 2.20 K/BB (3rd), .233 BAA (1st, by a lot), .684 OPSA (1st, by a lot)
I have no idea what this means; and I don't have time to look these numbers up for only August-September. But it would seem to suggest that either (1) with the exception of HR, Fenway is still very much a hitter's park, or (2) we have the right hitters but the wrong pitchers for Fenway.
Either way, given these differences I'd expect not too much of a road-home split in wins. But it's huge: they're 47-28 at home, 43-35 away.