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The Red Sox currently sit in first place in the AL East, and it is likely that they are there to stay. With an easier schedule and several key players coming off of the disabled list in the near future, the Sox look primed to continue their winning ways. The question then becomes, will either the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays be able to catch them?
Unless the Yankees make some significant moves before the trade deadline, they are in serious jeopardy of falling out of contention in the AL East. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon had outstanding first halves, but at 35 and 38 respectively, they aren't going to be able to maintain those impressive numbers.
The Bronx Bombers have hit their fair share of home runs this year, but with Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list and an under-performing Derek Jeter, their lineup has some serious holes. The Yanks won't be able to win as many games if no one can get on base for Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira.
In fact, I see the Red Sox having more difficulty with the Tampa Bay Rays than the Yankees. Though the Red Sox are 8-1 against the Yankees this year, they have struggled against the Rays, going only 3-4 so far.
The Rays have arguably the best young pitching staff in baseball, and at just six games back, are within striking distance of first place. However, with 24 games against the Red Sox and Yankees remaining this season, the Rays have minimal room for error. It is certainly possible that their stellar pitching will lead them down the stretch, but it more likely that an unproven offensive core prevents them from catching up.
Expect the Rays and Yanks will battle for the Wild Card as the streaking Sox pull away for the division title.