Division Races Heat Up; Red Sox are in
Teams are starting to close division races, as Red Sox and Indians both clinched their playoff bids this week.
Red Sox lock it up
The Boston Red Sox (104-49) clinched their third consecutive AL East title over the week, in a fitting victory over the Yankees, who sit in second place in the AL East, 10.5 games behind at 93-59. The Red Sox have been the MLB’s best team all year, and are approaching a 10-game lead on the entire rest of the league.
Indians secure their bid
The Cleveland Indians (85-67) also clinched this week, as the clock finally ran out on the rest of the AL Central, of which the Indians will be the only .500 team this season. They’ve flown significantly under the radar this year despite their pace to win 90 games with a +156 run differential on the season.
The AL West has been a wild show this season. The Angels, Mariners and Astros were the front runners to begin the season, but it’s been the Athletics that have stepped up and challenged the defending champions in the division race.
The Angels have struggled with injuries and under-performed yet again, as they sit under .500 and well eliminated. The Mariners contended strongly, well past the all-star break, but have fallen off since as the A’s have gone storming by. Despite having an 84-68 record, the Mariners will miss the playoffs this year and look to continue building before Felix Hernandez leaves or retires.
The Astros have been a great team all year, and have a +242 run differential to show for it, which is the best in the league by nearly 30. However, the Oakland A’s have come absolutely storming into contention since the all-star break and are still trying to catch the Astros to win the AL West. It’s certainly still a mathematical possibility, as the A’s sit just 3.5 games behind Houston.
Outside looking in
The AL Wild Card race is also pretty much decided. The Yankees and A’s look like they’ll be the two AL teams that get the final two spots, regardless of how hard the Tampa Bay Rays try. Speaking of the Tampa Bay Rays, if they could have won some road games in the first half of the season, they’d be a playoff team.
The Rays currently sit at 85-67, just 6.5 games out of the wild card picture. Just over a month ago, on August 18, the Rays were 22.5 games back of the Red Sox and all but eliminated from the playoffs. Since then, they’re 23-5 and have gained a handful of games on the Red Sox. More importantly, they’ve made up a ton of games on the Yankees and A’s, battling for the Wild Card spots. It would be insane to see them keep the run going and come back to take away one of those team’s playoff spots.
I want to talk about the NL but it’s just such a mess. Nothing is decided, and honestly, who knows what the freak is about to go down. The Cubs and Braves will make the playoffs. Other than that, who knows. The Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers and Rockies are all in serious contention, but the Diamondbacks and Phillies aren’t too much farther out. If any of those teams can win their last 10 games they could get in. On the other hand, a five-game skid could be the end of any of their seasons. Heck, even just a sweep puts the season in jeopardy at this point.