Talkin' (A Whole Lotta) Baseball
OK, time for an All-Star Break baseball extravaganza, right?
Checking in on the Playoff Races
American League East: Tampa Bay’s lead, after a historic start, is down to two games. The Rays stumbled through a seven-game losing streak before beating Atlanta on Sunday, and they’ve been playing .500 ball since the end of May. … The Orioles just keep on finding ways to overperform. We’re still watching to see if Félix Bautista can average two strikeouts per inning. As of today, he has 84 Ks in 42 innings … The Blue Jays miss Alek Manoah the Ace very much, but they’re in a comfortable position going into the second half … The Yankees have been treading water while waiting for Aaron Judge to return. If he comes back as his old self, they’re a threat. If not, well, no. Firing their hitting coach, as they did on Sunday, will not bring Judge back any quicker, by the way … The Red Sox are actually pretty good (They’d be leading the American League Central by 2 1/2 games) but they’re fifth-best in this crazy division.
American League Central: The Guardians come into the break with a 45-45 record and a half-game lead over the Twins. I guess it will be kind of interesting to see which one of them can win this blech division. Kind of. … The less said about the Tigers, White Sox and, especially, the Royals, the better, probably.
American League West: The Rangers have shown admirable staying power and still have a two-game lead over Houston. It feels like only a matter of time before the Astros overtake them, but the Rangers do lead the league in runs scored and have an outside chance of becoming just the fourth team in baseball history to score 1,000 runs in a season* … The Astros’ first half was injury-laden and filled with ups and downs. But they still have the best ERA in the league. … The Mariners go into the break over .500 after taking three of four from Houston, and they might be figuring some things out … The Angels, well, uh, Poor Shohei, that’s all I gotta say. I don’t think the Angels will deal him, but who even knows with that team … The Athletics will probably not break the Mets’ modern record for losses, but it’s still a whole lot of sadness in Oakland.
*The other three — the 1932 and ‘36 Yankees and Cleveland in 1999.