The new look Yankees have gone 17-9 since August 9th to join the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles in the hunt for the AL East title. Both AL wild card spots are currently held by these teams, but with most of their remaining games against each other, that may not be the case much longer. For the AL East, it could well be just like the old days: win or go home.
A look at what should be a memorable pennant chase after the jump.
Here are the current standings, with the top three having an off day today.
Their remaining schedules look like this.
|BOS||10-13||10-13||BAL (7), NYY (7), TOR (6), TBR (3)|
|TOR||13-10||13-3||BOS (6), NYY (4), LAA (4), BAL (3), TBR (3), SEA (3)|
|BAL||11-12||8-9||BOS (7), TBR (4), NYY (3), TOR (3), DET (3), ARI (3)|
|NYY||13-11||10-11||BOS (7), TBR (7), TOR (4), BAL (3), LAD (3)|
Boston has their whole schedule within the division (and all but three games against the other contenders) so can most easily gain ground, or lose it. The road to the division title would seem to run through Boston; any of the contenders will likely need to get a least a split (or close to it) against the Red Sox to have a good shot at the crown.
Toronto would appear to have the most favorable schedule, with all of their division games at home until their season-ending set in Boston. But, the Blue Jays still have a West Coast road swing ahead of them, which is always a challenge.
Baltimore finishes the schedule with six on the road, so will need to make some hay before then at home. The opportunity to do just that seems to be there, with the Rays and D-Backs on the home docket.
New York finishes with six at home, so they need to still be in striking range before then. It won’t be easy with an 11-game road trip to Boston, Tampa and Toronto preceding that final home stand.
Hot and Cold
New York is hitting the home stretch on a bit of a roll, despite having had their bats fall silent last weekend in Baltimore. Here’s what the teams have done recently, and over the course of the season.
Boston is on a six game streak allowing two runs or less, albeit against the bottom-feeding A’s and Padres; it’s the first such Red Sox streak on the road since 1982. Boston is 28-11 in blowout games (5+ run differential), but 50-50 in the rest; that should be good news for the Red Sox, with 20 of their last 23 games in hitter-friendly ballparks.
Toronto’s current three game slide is its first since dropping 5 in a row in mid-May. Their offense has cooled of late, losing 6 of 8, with a 2-1 record when scoring 5+ runs but 0-5 otherwise. For the season, Toronto and Baltimore are both winning at better than a .300 clip when scoring 4 runs or less, while New York and Boston are below that mark, especially the Red Sox with a .220 W-L% that’s tied for 5th worst in the majors.
Baltimore has shut out its opponent in 3 of their last 10 games, after allowing double-digit runs in 4 of the prior 10 games. The Orioles are 7 games under .500 on the road, so they’ll need to avoid reverting to Mr. Hyde defensively if they’re to have success in their four remaining away series; it won’t be easy as three of those series are in very hitter-friendly ballparks against their AL East challengers.
New York’s current hot streak began with back-to-back extra-inning wins in Kansas City; the Yankees made it to the ALCS, won the ALCS and won the World Series the last three times they had such a streak on the road (and were World Series-bound on four of the seven occasions before that). New York was 17-11 (.607) in August; since 1969, 42.5% of teams (111 of 261) that played .600 ball in August have won their division.
To close, here are the contenders’ records to date against each other.
|Tm||vs. BOS||vs. TOR||vs. BAL||vs. NYY|
So, how do you handicap this race?