You guys, I have something to tell you. If you haven't already come to this conclusion yourself, this might be upsetting. But here goes: It's time to root for the Red Sox. I know, just a few weeks ago we were rooting for the Yankees to beat the Red Sox, but now the tables have turned. The Yankees are suddenly winning, and we have to let go of any hopes of the division. The division belongs to the Red Sox.
Baltimore Orioles (74-65)
4th place, A.L. East, 9 1/2 games back of Red Sox
T-4th place, A.L. Wild Card, 3 games back of Rays
It was a pretty bad week for the Orioles, who dropped two straight series to the teams they are fighting with for a playoff spot. First they lost two of three from the Yankees, then did the same in Cleveland. They're not out of it yet, but one or two more wins in those two series could end up being the difference.
The O's started a four-game series against the White Sox last night and won to give them a 3-4 record for the week. They finish that series this weekend with three more, then play a four-game series against the Yankees at home beginning Monday.
Boston Red Sox (85-57)
1st place, A.L. East, 6 1/2 games ahead of Rays
As I mentioned above, it's time to concede the East to the Red Sox. Now they can only help us by beating up on the Rays and Yankees. The Red Sox went 6-1 on the week to really pull away from the Rays in the race. They swept the White Sox then took two of three against the Tigers. They started a four-game series with the Yankees in New York last night and won in extra innings.
This week they'll finish their series with the Yankees over the weekend and then they play three at the Rays. Do you see why we need them to win?
Tampa Bay Rays (77-62)
2nd place, A.L. East, 6 1/2 games behind Red Sox
2nd place, A.L. Wild Card, 2 1/2 games behind the A's
The Rays have been on the west coast and they have not been doing well. In a huge match up against the A's last weekend they were swept, and they followed that with taking two out of four from the Angels. Their 2-5 week dropped them from 2 1/2 behind the Red Sox to 6 1/2. Ouch.
The Rays remain out west for the weekend with three games against the the Mariners, then travel home for a three-game series against the Red Sox next week.
New York Yankees (75-65)
3rd place, A.L. East, 9 games behind Red Sox
3rd place, A.L. Wild Card, 2 1/2 games behind Rays
The Yankees had a strong week, though they, like the Red Sox, got to play the reeling White Sox. Just as the Red Sox did (and hopefully the Orioles will), the Yankees swept them. They took two of three from our O's before that and lost the first game of their long weekend set against the Red Sox for a week's record of 5-2.
The Yankees are just 1/2 game ahead of the Orioles in the standings, and they play three more against the Red Sox before coming to Baltimore for a crucial four-game set. It'd be nice to be ahead of them when that series begins.
Oakland Athletics (80-60)
2nd place, A.L. West, 1/2 game behind Rangers
1st place, A.L. Wild Card, 2 1/2 games ahead of Rays
The A's are going to the playoffs. The only question for them is if it'll be as the division leader or the wild card. It's entirely possible that in next week's edition of this column I'll be talking about the Rangers in this spot intead of the A's.
The A's went 5-2 in the last week with a sweep of the Rays to take top WC spot, and two of three from the Rangers and gained 2 1/2 games on them. They did lose game one in their four-game series to the Astros, but I don't expect that to continue.
This weekend the A's play three more against the Astros and then three against the Twins. So you can pretty much expect them to keep on winning.
Cleveland Indians (74-65)
2nd place, A.L. Central, 6 1/2 games behind Tigers
T-4th place, A.L. Wild Card, 3 games behind Rays
The Indians and Orioles have the same exact record, which of course wouldn't be the case if the Orioles hadn't fallen apart in Cleveland. So to keep ahead of them the Orioles just have to play better than the Indians for the rest of the season. The problem with that? The Indians have remaining this season: 3 games against the Mets, 6 against the Royals, 6 against the White Sox, 4 against the Astros, and 4 against the Twins. That'll all happen while the O's finish their season against all A.L. East teams. It would surprise me at all if the Rays, Yankees, and Orioles beat each other up just eough to let the Indians slide into the WC. Man, I hate the A.L. Central.
Anyway, the Indians went 3-3 on the week with a series loss to the Tigers and a series win against the Orioles. They play three games this weekend against the Mets followed by a three game series against the Royals.
TL;DR -- Who should I root for this weekend?
This weekend you should root for the Mets, Astros, Mariners, and (gulp) Red Sox.