The Red Sox begin the second half of the season tonight facing steamy heat and the somewhat diminished, but always dangerous, New York Yankees. The real race for the American League East title begins. The Boston Globe story by Julian Benbow lays out the facts.
Whenever Jonny Gomes would glance at the standings, he got an idea just how much of a tug of war the American League East is.
The fact that four of the five teams are above .500 was overshadowed by what the division did against the rest of the league.
In the first half, the AL East went a combined 70-54 against the Central, 53-39 against the West, and 35-19 in interleague play.
“I’ve actually looked at our standings and you saw the whole AL East win,” Gomes said. “It seems like the only time a team loses is when we play each other. It’s a big division. It truly is.”
Which is why the Red Sox’ first 10 games out of the All-Star break will be a grueling and critical test. They start with a three-game set this weekend with the Yankees, then play four with the second-place Rays, and then hit the road for three games against the Orioles.
The Sox enter Friday with a major league-leading 58 wins, but 38 of their final 65 games are against division foes.
So how did they do against the division so far? According to Steve Melewski who writes about the Orioles
Boston is 4-2 this year against the Yankees and 9-3 against Tampa, but just 2-5 versus the Orioles.
My father used to say about the Atlanta Braves who had trouble with the Mets, “It never matters how bad or good the teams are, the Mets win.” I hope this isn’t true about the Red Sox and Orioles.
Clay Buchholz needs to get better without rushing his recovery and Jon Lester needs to get his head straight and start winning. Lester started out the season pitching quicker than he had before, but now he seems to have slowed again.
More from Gomes and Benbow
The Sox know how crucial the final months of the season can be. They’ve gone into the break with the division lead in five of the last seven seasons, but have won the division just once over that span.
“It’s going to be a scrap,” Gomes said. “It’s a tough division. You see last place here could be third or second in other divisions. So that speaks for itself. At the same time, the Sox aren’t going to sneak up on anybody on the road.”
The Sox were able to navigate injuries and issues in the first half in large part because of depth and some deft decision-making by Farrell.
But with a daunting schedule ahead in a tightly packed division, returning to full strength will play a large part in sustaining success and returning to the postseason.
“Where we’re at right now, we’re not going to sneak up on anyone,” Gomes said. “So we just have to simplify — win each game, win each inning, stay healthy and keep going north.”
Many Sox fans, including me (I predicted a .500 team.) were surprised by the first half. Now we are ready to be surprised by the second. Let’s start by beating up on the Yankees.
Photograph: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
- A.L. East race resembles “Fine Young Cannibals” (baseballtrashtalkin.org)
- Red Sox face daunting schedule to begin second half (boston.com)
- Red Sox Not Looking Back (migportfolio.wordpress.com)
- Mid-Season Report Cards: American League East (isportsweb.com)