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Around The League: Free Falling

The Red Sox, thanks largely to some nice hospitality from the Jays, are slowly starting to run away with the AL East. We still have the Wild Card race, though! Sort of! Maybe!

American League East

Boston Red Sox 47-35 (0 GB) +63 run differential 

The Boston Red Sox have their largest lead in the American league East of the season thanks largely to the Blue Jays. The Sox rolled into Toronto and hammered the Jays on Canada Day weekend, outscoring them 29-6. They also won three of four games at home against the Twins, ultimately giving them a 6-1 record for the week.

The key to Boston’s success as they’ve gotten rolling has been their starting pitching. Everyone was good last week. They didn’t allow more than four runs in a game, and they held their opponents to two or fewer runs four different times. Their offence hasn’t been as potent as you’d expect mainly because they don’t swing for power, but they don’t need much when the starting pitching is suffocating.

It’s been expected all year that Boston would run away with this division. It seems that’s finally happening.

New York Yankees 43-37 (3 GB) +104 run differential 

The Yankees entered the week tied with the Red Sox at the top of the division, but watched that position slip away. They split a four-game series in Chicago with the White Sox, then dropped two of three to the Astros. All in all, New York has continued their mediocre, up and down, hot and cold play. They went 13-15 for June and are off to a 0-2 start in July. It was expected this team wasn’t going to continue winning at a .600 pace like it did through April and May. And here we are.

In a turn of fortune, their starting pitching was actually good this week, it was their bullpen that let the Yankees down. On Saturday, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman allowed Houston to score four runs in the eighth inning to come back and win. Otherwise, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Jordan Montgomery has strong starts this week.

Tampa Bay Rays 43-41 (5 GB) +18 run differential

The Rays have done a consistently good job of staying in the race, never getting cold and falling back but also never getting hot and climbing up either. Tampa went 3-3 this week, dropping a series on the road against the Pirates and winning one in Baltimore.

Their pitching, which has held them back from going on a run this year, was good, but not great. Their offence has carried them through inconsistent pitching performances and a shaky bullpen all season. The interesting note this week was Adeiny Hechavarria, who was acquired to give Tampa Bay some depth up the middle. In his first 19 at bats with the Rays, Hechavarria had eight hits and three RBIs.

Baltimore Orioles 40-41 (6.5 GB) -68 run differential

The Orioles pitching snapped a hilariously bad streak of allowing five runs or more for damn near a month in a row last week. Then, this week, thanks to the Blue Jays and their putrid lineup, Baltimore’s staff actually looked really good. The O’s only allowed five runs in their series against the Jays, which says a lot about Toronto’s offence. Immediately after that, they played Tampa Bay and got lit up again.

The O’s are sort of hanging around in the American League despite their poor pitching and their wealth of injuries. They went 3-3 on the week against Tampa Bay and Toronto, and still remain in striking distance of the Wild Card. Obviously the goal for them is to stay alive until Zach Britton and Chris Davis return from the disabled list.

Toronto Blue Jays 37-44 (9.5 GB) -45 run differential 

Party like it’s April 2017. The Jays had a putrid week, going 1-5 and falling to 9.5 games out of first in the division. They got dried up by the Orioles terrible pitchers and then they got clobbered by Boston’s slightly-above-average offence. Everything was bad. The starting pitching was bad, the bats were bad. Everything. With the trade deadline around the corner and the team in free fall, it’s pretty clear that 2017 might be over sooner rather than later.

The Wild Card

New York Yankees 43-37 (2 GU)

Tampa Bay Rays 43-41 (0 GB)

— — —

Kansas City Royals 41-40 (0.5 GB)

Minnesota Twins 41-40 (0.5 GB)

Los Angeles Angels 43-43 (1.0 GB)

Baltimore Orioles 40-41 (1.5 GB)

Seattle Mariners 41-42 (1.5 GB)

Texas Rangers 40-42 (2.0 GB)

Toronto Blue Jays 37-44 (4.5 GB)

Chicago White Sox 36-45 (5.5 GB)

Detroit Tigers 36-45 (5.5 GB)

Oakland Athletics 35-47 (7.0 GB)

The more important set of standings for the Jays at this point is the Wild Card race. They’re, uh, somehow still sort of in it, sitting 4.5 games back with half of a season left to go. The issue here, of course, is having to jump all of these teams. Texas, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay are all ahead of the Jays here, and they’re all teams the Jays haven’t capitalized on in their recent stretch of mediocre play. Still, I’ll contradict what I said above and suggest it isn’t over just yet. Winning five more games than Tampa Bay or Kansas City over the next 81 isn’t impossible.

Elsewhere….

Here’s some of the worst shit you’ll see in a Major League baseball game. Last week, the Dodgers managed to let the Angels win a game on a walk-off strikeout. Still, the Dodgers are 55-29, so it’s hard to laugh too hard at them.

And you thought the Sportsnet camera work was bad?

  • Rob Ray

    Realistically, I figure they would have to go AT LEAST 51-30 the rest of the way just to have a chance (that’s 87 wins). In other words, they’d have to win about 63% of their remaining games. When you consider the bulk of those games are against the AL East, where they sport a record of 14-24, then I believe a turnaround isn’t realistic. All the games against the Red Sox have been at home, where they are 1-5 , which means they’ll be spending a lot of time in Boston, and 3-9 against the Orioles, a team everyone else is killing.

  • Teddy Ballgame

    For a guy who claims he doesn’t like it here, you sure post a lot…

    Sad thing is, I don’t see the Jays getting a big return on any of their pieces. I think we’re just gonna have to ride out the gap between the major league club and the low minors talent – the high minor talent being the price paid for those playoff runs. No regrets, though – it’s not as if we kept Hoffman, Thor, Norris et al that we’d be in great shape either.

  • Rob Ray

    True about the trades. Remember all those studs they had at Lansing 5 years ago? Nicolino has been in AAA all season and DeSclafani, Syndergaard and Sanchez have been hurt all year.

  • Player to Be Named Later

    They could get decent pieces for Liriano and Estrada, maybe Joe Smith, and Jose might agree to a trade if the writing is on the wall. (How many more chances will he have to play in a world series?) With Stroman’s blister, the mountain just got a little steeper. It is truly shit-or-get-off-the-pot time for this team. And if a run doesn’t materialize very soon, I think Shapiro has to start making the unpopular hard decisions.