Red Sox September Standings Watch: Clinging to AL East lead

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19: Chris Sale
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19: Chris Sale /
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NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 14: Gary Sanchez (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 14: Gary Sanchez (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

AL East Standings

Despite losing four of their last five games, including three straight, the Red Sox are still clinging to a 2.5 game lead over the Yankees in the division race.

New York’s recent surge has come mostly at Boston’s expense. Much of the damage done during the beating in the Bronx came from the bat of Gary Sanchez, who went 7-for-18 with a home run and four RBI in the series. The Yankees catcher shouldn’t have been eligible to play after being hit with a four-game suspension for his role in the brawl with the Detroit Tigers last week. The punishment handed out by former Yankees manager Joe Torre was lenient, to say the least. Allowing for the punishment to be delayed until after the Red Sox left town is almost as disgraceful as Sanchez appealing the decision. What argument could he possibly have for sucker punching Miguel Cabrera while he was on the ground?

The Baltimore Orioles are quietly sneaking back into the race after winning seven of their last ten games, including a three-game sweep in Boston. A resurgence from Manny Machado, who is hitting .338 with a .957 OPS and 12 home runs since the break, has been the biggest factor in their second half success. Their early season woes may have left them too far back to make a comeback at this point, but the O’s are a threat to make the postseason.

A few short weeks ago it seemed as though the Red Sox were looking over their shoulders at a lurking Tampa Bay Rays team. Now the Rays have fallen below .500 and out of the division race. Tampa Bay is last in the league in most offensive categories, including runs scored, in the second half.

The Blue Jays are already looking ahead to 2018, but with five games left against the Red Sox, they are still in a position to play the spoiler role.