As the New York Yankees hide behind their protective bunkering of first place, their closest enemy, the Baltimore Orioles, are just three horses (one horse=eight feet, if you weren’t aware.) behind them. Right behind the battling Orioles are the Toronto Blue Jays, and about one horse behind the fighting Jays, are the Tampa Bay Rays. Up until this week, it had only been a four-horse race in the American League East.
But this week, it’s been different.
The Boston Red Sox, the previously long forgotten fifth team, were left in the dust after battles in April, May and June, and were trying to make up ground lost in a cloud of mediocre starting pitching and slumping offense. These last seven days have seen the Sox break across the horizon into the thick of things to make it a five-team battle.
“The Red Sox are coming! The Red Sox are coming!”
That quote above is what every team in the congested AL East should be saying right now. In mid-June, the Red Sox’ season seemed to be over after finding themselves 10 games out of first place. At that time, the future of John Farrell, the team’s flustered manager, was in severe jeopardy of losing his job, along with some of the highly overpaid players that he was in “control” of.
But since June 20th, the Red Sox have clawed their way back to just 5.5 games back of first place, despite the countless mental mistakes they’ve made in the field.
The Red Sox have one series to go before the All-Star break, and this series, a three-game set against the Yankees at Fenway, may be the most important of the season.
Do I sense a much-needed fuel for this dying rivalry?
A last-place team playing a first-place team doesn’t normally spark, or fuel rivalries. But what makes this case different, is that if the Red Sox can at least win this series, they will gain more ground in the division and go into the break with some serious confidence. If they could ever sweep the series, there’s a big chance that they could move up in the standings, and sit right on the Yank’s doorstep as they head into the break.
5.5 games back is a weird place to be–it’s right on the cusp of contention, but one bad game has you farther and farther from it.
That’s what makes this series so important. If the Red Sox can keep the good times rolling, they could in fact steam-roll over the weak Rays, the Blue Jays and the Orioles: all in possibly one series. And even if not in this series, there’s a good chance they will do it anyways: they’ve found a great combination of fielding that has Hanley Ramirez out of left-field (thank God), with David Ortiz at first base and Alejandro De Aza now manning the area of the field in which Hanley just couldn’t seem to grasp (or simply just didn’t want to).
The offense has been on fire for the Sox, the pitching seems to be coming together and there’s that spark that’s starting to show itself on the field with the Red Sox. You know, the one that the 2013 Red Sox had and the ones from 2004-2010 had as well? Ironically, those teams were all at the very least competitive down the stretch, and some of those teams even won the World Series (2004, 2007 and 2013 just in case you forgot).
But first, the Red Sox must focus on taking at least two of three from the mighty Yankees. Could we see an overthrow in power this weekend?
Cue the Rivalry.