The Boston Red Sox have closed the gap on the New York Yankees in the AL East thanks to a horrid road trip for the Bronx Bombers, but all that hope and expectation coming out of the Red Sox camp must be met with shifty eyes and sweaty palms as they have won, but not really been good in doing so. The Sox have received timely hitting, which has helped with a couple single digit victories over the last stretch, but they’ve needed it as oft-dependable pitchers like Rick Porcello and David Price have had rough season so far (Price’s season has been truncated by a stint on the DL to start it). Just as the hitting has started to come around (despite a black hole at third base…that could have been filled by Brewers All Star Travis Shaw…remember him, he wore red socks last year) one would hope that the pitching follows suit. Chris Sale has been everything one could hope for in a big name trade acquisition, not allowing the bright lights and high level competition of the AL East dampen his dominance, but Rodriguez is hurt and Pomeranz has been okay…much better than he was last year, but just okay so far.
The Yankees are hitting that rough patch that you would expect from a young team that’s playing a lot of meaningful ball together for the first time. They have been frontrunners all season with a lot of hype, both in New York City and beyond, undoubtedly making its way to their eyes and ears. Could some of that be coloring the way the boys in pinstripes see themselves? Especially the youngsters? There’s no doubt that Girardi will get this straightened out, and with Chapman coming off the DL, he’ll have his closer back as well. I fully expect the Yankees and Red Sox to duke it out for AL East supremacy for the rest of the year, like the good old days.
Tampa, an afterthought when the season began, has charged to third place in the East. They are one good run away from first place for a team that many thought would bring up the rear this year. Kevin Cash deserves a lot of credit for turning things around after Joe Maddon left and weathering the storm that brought. While I don’t think Tampa will challenge all year, eventually they’ll fall back a bit, they will make it interesting.
Baltimore was on fire to start the season, making my compatriot Justin look like Nostradamus with his prediction that they would win the AL East. After their scintillating start, however, they have fallen off a cliff. The Orioles are still within spitting distance of first place, and are sitting with a .500 record, showing just how tenuous the grip on first is in the East this year.
That brings us to Toronto, who should have been dead in the water after an abysmal start to the season. Instead of hanging their head and packing it in for next year, they went on a run and are currently hovering right around .500 as well, within a good two week stretch of first place.
A few years ago, the AL East was a beautiful mess, much like it is now. It provides for great baseball (and many ulcers for the fans of the respective teams) and a competitive atmosphere well into the late summer months. This is what good baseball is all about and should be a lot of fun to keep any eye on throughout the rest of the year.