MLB Standings Watch: Boston Red Sox seeing progress from slow starts


A six-game homestand didn’t do quite enough to right the ship, as the Boston Red Sox (21-24) managed to only win half of them. Considering the team is two games under .500 at Fenway Park this season, perhaps this actually signifies progress.

Speaking of progress, the Red Sox have been seeing signs of life lately from several players that got off to horrendous starts this season. Facing two of his former teams last week seemed to revitalize Mike Napoli. In six games against the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, Napoli went 9-for-21 (.428) at the plate with 5 home runs and 10 RBI. The hot streak has raised his season average from a pitiful .162 to comfortably above the Mendoza Line. Napoli’s .926 OPS this month is nearly double what he produced in April, showing he may finally have put his early season slump behind him.

Wade Miley pitched a gem in his last start, limiting the Angels to one run over a season-high 8 innings to pick up his third straight win. After carrying a brutal 8.62 ERA into the month, Miley has been the pitcher the Red Sox were hoping for when they traded for him last winter. Over his last 5 starts he has managed to trim his ERA nearly in half, now boasting a 4.47 ERA that leads all starters on this staff.

While the Red Sox pitching staff has still suffered the occasional setback, such as Joe Kelly‘s Memorial Day meltdown, this rotation has been much improved lately. This month Boston’s pitching staff ranks 10th in the AL, putting them closer to the middle of the pack instead of at the bottom where they began the season. That’s progress.

AL East Standings
(A look at the division standings, as of Tuesday morning)

(American League team gaining momentum)

Texas Rangers: A six-game winning streak has put Texas back into the race in the West. The Rangers have been tearing the cover off of the ball this month, scoring a league-leading 131 runs in May and posting an .812 OPS.

More from Red Sox News

Prince Fielder has led the way for this resurgent offense. A year ago he had been shut down with a season-ending neck injury that had many wondering if the slugger the Rangers had traded for had become a massive bust with 6-years, $144 million remaining on his albatross of a contract (even if the Detroit Tigers were kind enough to pitch in $30 million to free themselves of that burden). While he may never live up to that deal, he’s certainly earning every cent of his salary this season with an MVP-caliber performance. Fielder is hitting a league-leading .365 with 9 home runs and he’s second in the league with 35 RBIs.

(American League team that is struggling)

New York Yankees: Hard times have fallen on the Yankees, who have lost 10 of their last 12 games to relinquish their division lead. With ace Masahiro Tanaka sidelined with a forearm injury all month, Yankees pitchers have produced a league-worst 4.69 ERA in May, while opposing hitters are batting .270 against them.

More from BoSox Injection

Jacoby Ellsbury has been the team’s most consistent hitter all season, but a sprained knee sent him to the disabled list last week, creating a void at the top of the lineup. Brett Gardner has been leading off in his absence, but is hitting only .235 in the last 5 games since Ellsbury went down.

The decline of the Yankees over the past couple of weeks goes to show how wide open the East is. The last place Toronto Blue Jays are only 3.5 games behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays, while the Red Sox find themselves in the middle. Fourth place in the division is hardly an enviable position, but Boston is only 2.5 games back.

Playoff Outlook
(Division leaders and teams holding a Wild Card spot in the American League)

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays (24-22)
AL Central: Kansas City Royals (28-16)
AL West: Houston Astros (29-17)
Wild Card: Minnesota Twins (26-18)
Wild Card: Detroit Tigers (26-20)