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Around The League: The Division Race Is Alive Again

The Jays might be dead in the standings, but the AL East race is back on! The Red Sox courteously allowed the Yankees back into the conversation with a putrid week, giving us two exciting races to watch as we make our way into September.

American League East

Boston Red Sox 73-57 (0 GB) +83 run differential 

The Red Sox are on their worst cold streak of the season having dropped four in a row and five of their last seven over the past week. They split a tight series with Cleveland in what was a very possible ALCS preview, but then got hammered by the Orioles at home in a three-game sweep.

Rafael Devers’ hype train has cooled significantly since last week thanks to a week in which he went 4-for-28 with nine strikeouts. With Devers cooling, the Sox’s offence has taken a small step back to league average where it had been riding, which is usually fine, but their pitching had a rough time last week. Chris Sale got drilled for six runs in three innings, and both Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello had ugly starts.

I doubt it’s a huge deal or a tell that Boston is cooling down the stretch, but this poor week essentially erased the large lead they had in the divison and will make September more stressful than it needed to be for them.

New York Yankees 70-59 (2.5 GB) +135 run differential 

The Yankees took advantage of Boston’s poor week, winning four of six games to reduce their deficit in the division from 4.5 to 2.5 games. That’ll make the four-game series the teams will play later this week at Yankee Stadium a lot more interesting.

The key to this week’s success for New York was strong starting pitching, which hasn’t been the case all season. Over their six games, the Yankees allowed more than four runs just once, and that came in the 10-6 bench clearing brawl yard sale game with the Tigers on Thursday (more on that later). Otherwise, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Luis Severino all had good or great starts, which is huge for this division race.

Baltimore Orioles 65-65 (8 GB) -23 run differential 

With a series win against the Athletics and a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, the O’s managed to pull from 11.5 to 8.0 games back of the divison lead. Woosh! Obviously Baltimore isn’t going to catch Boston/New York, but this was a pretty major surge for their unlikely wild card push.

Tampa Bay Rays 65-67 (9 GB) -11 run differential 

The Rays edged the Blue Jays in a three-game series and followed that up with another gritty series win against the Cardinals. All in all, they won four of six this week, which is what they’re going to have to do the rest of the way if they’re going to have a chance to climb up the wild card race.

Toronto Blue Jays 61-69 (12 GB) -92 run differential 

Even though things looked very bleak after that Chicago series, there was still an opportunity for the Jays to make up some ground in the wild card against Minnesota and Tampa Bay. But, after dropping both series, the Jays sit six games out of the wild card, and all hope appears to be dead. It was an ugly week for the lineup, as the bats were held to two or fewer runs in three of the six games, which obviously isn’t going to cut it.

The Wild Card

New York Yankees 70-59 (+3.5 GU)

Minnesota Twins 67-63 (0 GB)

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Los Angeles Angels 66-65 (1.5 GB)

Seattle Mariners 66-65 (1.5 GB)

Baltimore Orioles 65-65 (2.0 GB)

Kansas City Royals 64-65 (2.5 GB)

Tampa Bay Rays 65-67 (3.0 GB)

Texas Rangers 64-66 (3.0 GB)

Toronto Blue Jays 61-69 (6.0 GB) 

Like I said, it’s looking dead at this point. I mean, there’s still a chance the team could go nuclear in September, but we haven’t seen anything that would indicate that happening. I’m now cheering for chaos, hoping that, like, three teams tie for the second wild card so that we have to watch multiple tie-breaker games for the right to get into the play-in game. Hell yeah, chaos.

Elsewhere…

BENCH BRAAAAAAWWWLLLL! Despite their season being over for weeks, the Tigers are still out there grinding.

Here’s what went down, courtesy of Reddit: Gary Sanchez  hits his 27th HR of the season in the 4th inning. In his next PA (5th inning), pitcher Michael Fulmer hits Sanchez with a pitch. No warnings issued by the umpires.

In Miguel Cabrera’s  first PA after the Sanchez plunking (6th inning), pitcher Tommy Kahnle  throws a pitch behind Cabrera’s back and is immediately ejected by umpire Carlos Torres. Joe Girardi  comes out to argue and gets ejected as well.

This takes place moments later as Cabrera (still at bat) is talking with catcher Austin Romine . Cabrera says something to Romine, which Romine responds to by taking off his catcher’s mask and saying something back. Cabrera then shoves Romine and the fight breaks out. After all is said and done, both Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine are ejected.

And then this! Holy fuck! Yankees fans will argue until they’re red in the face that this was entirely accidental because Betances has command issues, but my goodness. The timing of a guy getting drilled in the head with a 98 mph hit is just too perfect to be a coincidence.

And finally, the benches clear for the third time!

When it was all said and done, Miguel Cabrera was suspended seven games, Gary Sanchez was suspended for four games, Alex Wilson was suspended for four games, Austin Romine was suspended for two games, and Brad Ausmus was suspended for one game. Obviously the big controversy here is that Betances got away with drilling a guy in the head and Sanchez was given a  light slap for suckering players in the brawl that were defenceless. That’s pretty curious considering *puts on tinfoil cap* Joe Torre was involved in the discipling process!

Rich Hill had a perfect game going into the ninth that was ended on a Logan Forsythe error. Since the Dodgers couldn’t score any runs, the game went into extras with the no-hitter still intact, but Hill allowed a walk-off bomb to pick up likely the best pitched loss of all time. Funny, the day before, Doug Fister allowed a leadoff homer and then pitched a no-hitter the rest of the way, essentially the reverse of what Hill did.

I don’t know why this is so funny, but I can’t stop watching it.

  • Regulator Johnson

    I’ve seen it written in multiple places that BOS-CLE was a likely ALCS match-up, but am I missing something or has everyone forgotten that the Astros exist? They are 5+ games up on both BOS and CLE, so wouldn’t BOS-CLE be a likely ALDS match-up?

    • The Humungus

      Because the Astros pitching staff is a giant question mark right now, and they’re coasting a bit as a result, so there’s definitely a chance one or both of those teams could overtake them