Has anyone noticed that the Sox have won 21 of their last 30 games? (Which just happens to be Red Sox record since they traded Manny Ramirez. MQ) Boston is 82-57 (.590 WP) right now, on pace for 95-96 wins.
They've had a great second half, going 25-17 (.595). As good as the Sox have been, Tampa has been even better in the second half: 29-14 (.674). But I can't see them continuing to win at that pace. It's not that Tampa isn't a good team. They just aren't that good. Overall, the Rays are playing 6 games better than their Pythagorean Record (the Sox a 2 games worse in Pythagorean W-L).
I have been rooting for the MFY the past two nights because I think it's important for the Sox to win the division. If Boston takes the East, the Rays, as Wild Card, would open in Anaheim. That would mean that the Sox would not have to through both the Rays and Angels to get back to the World Series. (Tampa is 6-3 against the Angels this year). If the Sox win the East, they'd host the Central winner--either Chicago or Minnesota. Assuming Tampa beats Anaheim, the Sox would have home field throughout the playoffs.
The Angels are only 3 games up on the Sox right now, so the Sox still have a shot at the best overall record. While many tout LA as the best team in the AL, I'm not so sure. They are 84-54. But their Pythagorean Record is 75-63. In other words, it appears that the Angels have been a bit lucky this year. Here's how they match-up against the Sox:
LA - 639 Runs .265 AVG/.327 OBP/.404 SLG
Sox - 734 Runs .284 AVG/.362 OBP/.450 SLG
LA - 3.90 ERA 110 ERA+
Sox - 3.94 ERA 115 ERA+
If Boston is healthy, I don't fear the Angels. But I also don't want to have to play both Tampa and LA in the post-season. In order to avoid that, the Sox have to win the division. However, the Sox will need help to win the division.
I know they still have 6 head-to-head games with Tampa remaining. Theoretically, they can make up the 4 games in the loss column by winning 5 of 6. That doesn't seem a likely outcome, though. The best we can hope for is 4 of 6, a 2-game swing--although the teams will probably split the 6 games. Boston is 6-6 against Tampa this year. If they win 4 of their remaining games against the Rays, the Sox can win the division just by tying Tampa--if both teams are playoff bound (because they'd have won the season's series).
Lowell and Beckett are supposed to come back this weekend. Youk is day-to-day. I'm really only worried about Drew. Back injuries are hard to gauge, and I think the FO isn't expecting Drew to return any time soon or they wouldn't have acquired Kotsay. So, the Sox should be getting stronger. They also have a much more favorable schedule than the Rays. The Sox have 3 @ Texas, 3 v. Tampa, 4 v. Toronto, 3 @ Tampa, 3 @ Toronto, 4 v. Cleveland, and 3 v. MFY. The Rays' remaining schedule looks like this: 1 v. MFY, 3 @ Toronto, 3 @ Sox, 3 @ MFY, 3 v. Sox, 4 v. Minnesota, 3 @ Baltimore.
The Sox are up 7 over the MFY with 23 games left. I'm no longer worried about New York. They are dead. The MFY have another trip out west, playing 3 in Seattle and 3 in LA. The Rays have struggled against New York this year. The MFY and Indians are the only teams with winning records against the Tampa. That's why I'm relying on the MFY to help the Sox win the division.
Friday, September 05, 2008
23 Games to Go
My friend Adam sent me an email last night with his take on the final three and a half weeks of the 2008 regular season. In it he gives some good reasons why the Red Sox need to win the AL East (and he wrote it before the conclusion of last night's Rays-Yankees game).