As of Monday, the New York Yankees have moved ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East, while the Boston Red Sox (who a month ago were 8 1/2 games back) now currently sit in a virtual tie with Tampa, and are one game back of the Yankees.
Since it's ladies first, I will start with the Yankees.
They are 17-7 in their last 24 games, and 12-6 in the month of June. Although Mark Texeira continues to struggle at the plate, Robinson Cano has stepped up tremendously. He is leading the team in ever major hitting category.
Cano's 14 home runs, 49 RBI, 99 hits, and .367 batting average appear to have him a shoo-in for the All-Star game.
Someone not quite living up to his hitting numbers is Alex Rodriguez. He currently is sitting at eight homers, 44 RBI, 67 hits, and a .277 batting average. He will most likely make the All-Star game, but guys like Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, and Jose Bautista all are more deserving at this point.
The real reason the Yankees are so good this year has been their pitching, and not even from the guys you'd expect. Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte have been the two best pitchers on the team thus far, and they have been going deep enough into games that the bullpen has had rest.
Hughes thus far deserves to be an All-Star, and in consideration for the Cy Young Award. He has been awesome, and if Sox and Yanks fans are lucky, we could see him and Jon Lester as a Roger Clemens vs. Pedro Martinez.
All in all, the Yankees are a very deep team that despite some injuries this year, have managed to post the best record in baseball. The key for them is to keep their pitching staff healthy for the season, and they'll have a huge shot at 100 wins.
Next, the Red Sox.
Everyone thought at the beginning of the year the strength of the Red Sox would be their pitching. Well, with Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka both on DL, that hasn't been the case this season.
The Sox started horribly, and everyone immediately wrote them off, calling this season a bridge year. Then David Ortiz got hot at the plate, followed by Beltre, Kevin Youkilis, and Victor Martinez, and suddenly the Red Sox were at .500.
Suddenly, the Sox had become a hitting machine, with Big Papi and Youkilis having monster Mays.
This allowed the pitching staff to relax, and since then Lester and Clay Buchholtz have been two of the best pitchers in the American League.
The key player for the Red Sox has been Ortiz. He has brought power back to the lineup of the Sox, creating that three-four threat in the lineup that they needed. He has the most home runs on the team and is on pace for a good season.
The Red Sox have been killed with injuries all season, but have managed to get good production out of their backups and role players. They currently have the best offense in the majors.
Another key for them is to get their starting pitching figured out and a few guys healthy, and the Red Sox will have 100 wins.
Sorry Rays fans, but your guys are dropping. They have no depth, that won't win you 100 games.