Red Sox Standings Watch: Heading into All-Star break in first place

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 03: Manager John Farrell
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 03: Manager John Farrell /
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ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 9: Mookie Betts
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 9: Mookie Betts /

AL East Standings

Despite a bit of a stumble heading into the break, Boston remains in the driver’s seat in the AL East.

The Red Sox have a 3.5 game lead over the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. The Bronx Bombers are only two games back in the loss column, while the Rays trail by four losses.

Boston’s +65 run differential is fourth in the AL, while the +98 differential owned by the Yankees suggests they have played better than their record reflects. The Red Sox have been successful in close games, in part because of a bullpen that has produced the second best ERA in the league.

Red Sox relievers have converted 75.76 of save opportunities, blowing only eight saves this season. Kimbrel has been as dominant as any closer in the game, converting 23 of 25 save chances. The Yankees have blown more than twice as many leads, converting only half of their save opportunities. Only the Texas Rangers bullpen has converted save opportunities at a lower rate in the AL.

Tampa Bay is quietly creeping back into the division race, winning four of their last six games to land in a virtual tie with New York for second place. Their 27 home wins ties them with Houston for the most in the league. However, 37 of their remaining 71 games will come on the road where they own a .454 winning percentage. The Rays may have slightly overachieved in the first half and will be hard-pressed to keep it up down the stretch of a road-heavy schedule.