The race for the American League East crown has come down to three teams. Two of the clubs involved were expected to finish at or near the top of the division, the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. However, the third team, the Baltimore Orioles, figured to once again be the division’s doormat.
But entering play today, it’s the Orioles that current sit atop the AL East, tied with the Yankees and two games ahead of the Rays. The O’s began their grueling final stretch which includes four with the Yankees, three with the Rays and three with the Oakland Athletics, last night. They then travel to Seattle for a three-game set against the Mariners before finishing the season off with the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, another set with Boston, and three more against Tampa.
The Yankees would appear to have an easier final stretch of the season ahead of them, as the only .500 or better teams they play beyond Baltimore will be the Rays and A’s. New York has two series to go with the Red Sox and Blue Jays and they’ve also got a three-game set in Minnesota against the Twins.
Tampa’s final month-plus isn’t much friendlier that of the O’s. In fact, you could probably make a case that the Rays have the toughest season-ending schedule of the trio of AL East finalists. After this weekend’s series with the Rangers it will be almost all AL East for the Rays, as they face the O’s, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Red Sox again. Tampa then takes on the White Sox for four games before finishing the season against the Orioles.