The tap room is open; Molson Ice on us today. Although that’s pretty hard to say. So I’ll swap in a Carling’s Orange and Black Label if you prefer.
After the Orioles were blown to smithereens on Fireworks Night at Camden Yards Friday by the Toronto Blue Jays, it looked like their tenuous grasp on first place was loosening dangerously.
And then the Orioles won the next two, took the series from the division rival and remain in first place heading into Monday night’s bizarre, bad-weather-caused, one-game road trip to Texas.
The Orioles are now 40-28 overall – that’s the second-best winning percentage (.588) in the AL, behind only the Rangers.
Not only are the Orioles leading the Boston Red Sox (39-28) by a game and the Blue Jays (39-33) by three in the standings, but they have the best record within the division at 18-13 (.580). Only the Jays (23-19) have an above-.500 record against fellow AL East clubs.
So that’s definitely a good sign as the season progresses.
What I was curious about today is how you see the division race shaking out based on what you’ve observed so far.
Before the season began, I predicted the Orioles would finish third, ahead of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. I had the Red Sox in first and the Blue Jays in second.
If I’m allowed to tweak that prediction – and I am, because it’s my fake bar — the only thing I’d do is swap the Orioles and Blue Jays. I still see the Red Sox winning the division. I think their offense matches up with the Orioles and I think they have more quality pieces in the minors that can be unloaded to improve their starting pitching, which, like the Orioles’ rotation, needs a boost. I don’t like the Jays’ pitching staff right now, especially the bullpen, and that’ll be really key down the stretch.
In my “Around the Beat” Podcast recently, the Toronto Sun’s Hall of Fame baseball writer Bob Elliott agreed with me, saying the Red Sox just had “more candy in the candy store” than the Orioles and Blue Jays and, consequently, have a much better shot at a quality, late July addition. For that reason, Elliott also picked Boston in April and isn’t wavering.
Interestingly, in this past week’s podcast, the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham told me he picked the Orioles to win the division in April and he also is sticking to his guns (we’re a hard-headed bunch, baseball writers).
Abraham believes that the Red Sox starting pitching is just too suspect to be a division winner.
New York Daily News’ Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand sheepishly admitted that he took the Yankees to win the division in April. He’s distancing himself from that a little, but believes it will be a four-club race with the winner being the team that makes the right July acquisition or acquisitions. He doesn’t see a true favorite at this moment.
We’re now in the last 10 days of June. It seems like an appropriate time to get your feelings on this division. So tell me who wins it, and why.
Tap-in Question: Make the call now: Who wins the AL East and why?