Remember a few months ago when some national observers said the AL East wouldn’t be as strong this year?
So much for that.
Here we are in late June, three weeks away from the All-Star Break, and every team in the division is at least two games above the .500 mark. No other division in baseball can make that claim.
The Orioles are eight games over .500 and are in position to claim the second of the two wild-card spots, but over the weekend they were swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, a team that some had already shoveled dirt onto a few weeks ago.
With 11 straight wins, the Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball. They out-slugged the powerful Orioles offense in the sweep, scoring 24 runs in three games, including 13 in Sunday’s series finale. And they finally appear to be jelling after undergoing a significant roster overhaul in the offseason. Now tied with the Tampa Bay Rays at five games back in the division, the Blue Jays are almost out of the cellar.
The New York Yankees have overcome injuries and an uncharacteristically average offense thanks to solid pitching and strong defense. They trail the Red Sox by two and a half games and figure to remain in the hunt all season, especially if they bolster their lineup at the trade deadline as they do perennially.
The Orioles are two games behind the Red Sox, the only team in baseball with more runs than them, and squandered an opportunity to gain ground on the Red Sox, who lost three of four to the Detroit Tigers over the weekend.
After going 43-29 against the AL East last season, the best intradivisional record of the bunch, the Orioles are just 17-18 in the division so far this year. But they are 5-2 against the Red Sox.
The season is far from over, though, which is why there shouldn’t be too much panic after the Orioles went oh-fer in Toronto.
The Orioles will reach the midway point of the regular season this weekend, and it doesn’t look like they will be dropping out of the race in the second half.
Of course, you can say the same for the four other teams in the AL East, which should make for fine theater in August and September.