Roughly one month before the end of the season, the New York Yankees gained ground on the Boston Red Sox in a tight AL East division race.
The MLB standings have been largely static most of the season, with four of the six division races seemingly decided months ago. However, two divisions are still up for grabs at the end of August, which should set the stage for a dramatic postseason chase in the final month.
The Brewers’ pursuit of the defending World Series champion Cubs has made the National League Central race interesting, and Chicago holds a slim two-game lead after losing two of three to the lowly Phillies in Philadelphia over the weekend, but the focus this week is the tightening American League East.
When the calendar turned from July to August, the Yankees held a half-game lead over the rival Red Sox. However, Boston surged to the top of the division after winning 15 of their first 19 games during the month – including four wins in six games against the Yanks. New York lost eight of its first 12 games in August, and fell as far back as 5.5 games in the division standings. The Red Sox entered their three-game weekend series against the Orioles with a 4.5-game cushion.
But things can turn quickly in a playoff race. After the Orioles swept the Red Sox at Fenway Park while the Yankees beat the Mariners in two of three games in the Bronx, Boston’s lead is down to just 2.5 games.
Masahiro Tanaka won twice last week, including a terrific performance Sunday to clinch the series against Seattle. Tanaka struck out 10 hitters and allowed just one run on six hits and one walk in seven innings.
Slugger Gary Sanchez led the charge for the Yankees last week, and led the club with four home runs and 10 RBI. Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner combined for 17 hits, and the lineup also got a lift with Starlin Castro (who was 4-for-4 Sunday) and Greg Bird returning to action.
Looking ahead, the Red Sox leave for Toronto and the Yankees host Cleveland before the clubs clash for a pivotal three-game weekend series at Yankee Stadium beginning Sept. 1. What a way to start the final month of the season.
American League East
Boston Red Sox (73-57, .562, – GB)
Last Week: 2-2 at Indians, 0-3 vs. Orioles
- Home Record: 40-25
- Road Record: 33-32
- Runs Scored: 624
- Runs Allowed: 541
- Run Differential: +83
- Streak: Lost 4
- Last 10: 4-6
New York Yankees (70-59, .543, 2.5 GB)
Last Week: 2-1 at Tigers, 2-1 vs. Mariners
- Home Record: 37-23
- Road Record: 33-36
- Runs Scored: 676
- Runs Allowed: 541
- Run Differential: +135
- Streak: Won 2
- Last 10: 6-4
Baltimore Orioles (65-65, .500, 8 GB)
Last Week: 2-1 vs. Athletics, 3-0 at Red Sox
- Home Record: 38-26
- Road Record: 27-39
- Runs Scored: 633
- Runs Allowed: 656
- Run Differential: -23
- Streak: Won 4
- Last 10: 6-4
Tampa Bay Rays (65-67, .492, 9 GB)
Last Week: 2-1 vs. Blue Jays, 2-1 at Cardinals
- Home Record: 34-33
- Road Record: 31-34
- Runs Scored: 566
- Runs Allowed: 577
- Run Differential: -11
- Streak: Won 1
- Last 10: 5-5
Toronto Blue Jays (61-69, .469, 12 GB)
Last Week: 1-2 at Rays, 1-2 vs. Twins
- Home Record: 35-31
- Road Record: 26-38
- Runs Scored: 554
- Runs Allowed: 646
- Run Differential: -92
- Streak: Lost 1
- Last 10: 3-7
Drew Pomeranz and Doug Fister carried the pitching staff last week. Pomeramz tossed 5.1 scoreless innings Wednesday against the Indians. The lefty picked up the win after he allowed just two hits and four walks while striking out nine. Fister beat the Tribe the night before. He allowed one run – a solo home run in the first inning – and then held Cleveland hitless for nine innings. The right-hander made a quality start against Baltimore Sunday, but took the loss.
Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Nunez were the biggest run producers of the week for Boston. Moreland hit three home runs and drove in five while Nunez hit two long balls and led the club with seven RBI.