Updating and Predicting the AL Wild Card Race

After going 2-4 in their rigorous series with the Rays and White Sox, the Red Sox now hold the second Wild Card spot in the American League, with Toronto holding the first. Boston now sits just one game ahead of the Yankees for the second Wild Card spot, and three games in front of the Athletics and Mariners. The Red Sox will now travel to Seattle to face-off with the Mariners in a series that could have big playoff implications. 

What’s ahead? 

With the Wild Card narrowed down to just the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics, and Mariners, this is what the remaining schedule looks like for those squads. 

Toronto Blue Jays- vs Rays (3), vs Twins (3), @ Rays (3), @ Twins (4), vs Yankees (3), vs Orioles (3)

Boston Red Sox- @ Mariners (3), vs Orioles (3), vs Mets (2), vs Yankees (3), @ Orioles (3), @ Nationals (3)

New York Yankees- Vs Twins (1), @ Orioles (3), vs Indians (3), vs Rangers (3), @ Red Sox (3), @ Blue Jays (3), vs Rays (3)

Oakland Athletics- @ Royals (3), @ Angels (3), vs Mariners (4), vs Astros (3), @ Mariners (3), @ Houston (3)

Seattle Mariners- vs Red Sox (3), @ Royals (3), @ Athletics (4), @ Angels (3), vs Oakland (3), vs Angels (3)

AL West

The Athletics and Mariners are set to meet each other seven times before the end of the season. With the season series between the two at 7-5, these two very well could knock each other out of the Wild Card race. The two teams have been evenly matched this season, so it is unlikely one dominates the other in their remaining seven games. 

The Athletics also draw the unfortunate task of taking on the Houston Astros six times before the end of the season. Houston and Chicago and currently neck and neck to decide who will have home-field advantage for the ALDS. This means there will be no easy games for the Athletics when they see the Astros. 

The Mariners will see their division foe Los Angeles Angels six times before the season ends. In their 12 matchups this season, the Mariners lead the season series 7-5. The Angels have been tough for the Mariners this season, so their six games could be another factor that drops Seattle in the standings. 

The schedule is not in favor of the Mariners and Athletics moving forward. With both teams three games back of the second Wild Card spot, it is unlikely each team can catch up, IF the Red Sox take care of business in their series with the Mariners this week. If the Red Sox can take care of Seattle, Houston will do the rest with Oakland. 

AL East

The AL East is where things get interesting. The Blue Jays have clawed all the way back into things and now hold the number one spot in the Wild Card. Toronto is a team the Red Sox do not want to see. We have seen what the Blue Jays are capable of, beating up the Red Sox by double digit runs a few times this season.

This race will be tight all the way up until playoff time. As I stated in another recent article, the schedule is in the Red Sox favor once again, but they will need to capitalize.

The Blue Jays will play the first place Tampa Bay Rays six times before the end of the season. The Rays are 8-5 against Toronto this season. The Blue Jays will also see the Twins seven times before the end of the season, who have the ability to put up good offensive numbers.

The Yankees will see the Blue Jays and Rays, as well as come to Boston for a three game series. If the Red Sox hold up their end and capitalize on the schedule, they could be shaping up to land that number one spot. The Red Sox will need some help so they don’t have to see Toronto though.

Red Sox Host Rays In Must Win Series

Despite being 2-8 in their last 10 games, and having lost their last three series, the Red Sox still remain well in the thick of things in the AL East race. But this upcoming series with the Tampa Bay Rays could be their last gasp. 

Frustration mounts as Red Sox get jumped by Blue Jays in fifth | Sports |  eagletribune.com

The Red Sox have looked like a completely different team since the trade deadline, and it’s hurting them in the AL East race. The Red Sox have had a chance to bury both the Blue Jays and the Yankees in the standings and have failed to do so, now both teams have crawled back into the picture. I mentioned the Red Sox are 2-8 in their last 10 games… the Rays, Blue Jays and Yankees are all 8-2 in their last 10. Yet the Red Sox still sit in second place in the division with another golden opportunity to prove themselves looming ahead. 

The Red Sox will have today off before taking on the Rays for a three game set at Fenway Park. Needless to say, this will be a must win series for the Red Sox, as Boston currently sits four games behind Tampa, who is slowly starting to run away with the AL East. The reason for the Red Sox struggles are simple, and honestly, could be worrisome. But if there is one thing we have learned from this 2021 Red Sox team, it is that they don’t give up. So what is it the Red Sox need to fix prior to taking on the Rays in this monumental series? 

Bullpen Needs To Find Themselves

Let’s start with the obvious, the bullpen needs to be better. The Red Sox bullpen may have over achieved a bit prior to the All Star Break, but they have been really bad as of late. In the last seven days, Red Sox relievers have an average ERA of 4.25, and an average WHIP 1.34. The Red Sox bullpen has been great most of this season, but they have been struggling mightily during this skid. That is the team will need to fix to return to where they were. 

Bats Need To Get Going

Prior to Sunday’s eight run game, the Red Sox were averaging just 2.5 runs per game over their last series. Prior to the All Star break, the Red Sox were averaging 5 runs per game. With the bullpen struggling the way they are, the Red Sox need to provide more run support. 

If the Red Sox want to keep their AL East championship hopes alive, this is the biggest series of the season so far. Luckily for the Red Sox, they will be returning back to Fenway Park for this series, where they are 20-9 since the stadium returned to full capacity. 

Should We Be Worried About The Red Sox Struggles?

With last night’s 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees, the Red Sox have lost their last three series. They are now 6-7 in the month of July. The Red Sox have been outscored 47-35 in their last three series and have a record of 3-6 in those games. These numbers certainly raise some eyebrows, but should we be worried about the Red Sox struggles?

Boston Red Sox's bats go quiet in 9-1 loss to Yankees; team has now lost 6  of last 8 games, last 3 series - masslive.com

In short, no we shouldn’t. Prior to going on this mini skid the Red Sox won eight games in a row. The MLB season is 162 games long, so the team is bound to face some adversity over the course of the season. Boston really hasn’t faced any adversity since the opening series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Red Sox Have Plenty Of Chances To Build Division Lead

Relax, The Red Sox still sit on top of the AL East. They also have one of the best records in baseball. With that being said, the Red Sox will need to turn their recent misfortunes around if they want to remain at the top of the AL East. 

The Red Sox also have plenty of opportunities to prove why they are the best team in the AL East. Boston will play AL East teams in 26 out of their next 29 games. Though only three of those games will be against the Tampa Bay Rays, who sit just a half game behind the Red Sox for the division lead, the Red Sox will have opportunities to narrow the race to just them and the Rays. The Red Sox will also see the Rays seven times between August 30th and September 8.

In such a long season, it is inevitable that a team drops a few games. For the Red Sox, the schedule is luckily in their favor for division play. The Sox will have their first test tonight, as they take on the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo.

One More Thing…

All though this article wasn’t necessarily about the Red Sox and Yankees most recent series in New York, I feel this has to be mentioned. The way the fans in Yankees stadium behaved throughout the course of this series was completely unacceptable. First with throwing a ball at Alex Verdugo, then delaying the game by shinning a light in the batter’s eye, then spitting on Jason Varitek’s daughter? Jason Varitek’s daughter is nine years old, and was spit on for wearing her father’s jersey, which is absolutely disgusting.

Heckling at opposing fans is one thing but to throw a baseball at player, and to spit on a nine year is another. These are criminal offenses happening at Yankee’s stadium. It feels like this kind of stuff happens too much at Yankee’s stadium to brush it under the rug. The events from this past series are just another reminder of ignorant their fan base can be.

The Jarren Duran Era Has Begun

On Wednesday, Red Sox Nation was buzzing. Top prospect Jarren Duran was not in the line up for the Worcester Red Sox, and it was rumored that he was on his way to Yankee Stadium for Thursday’s game. Sure enough, the news broke. The Jarren Duran era has begun in Boston. The 24-year-old outfielder will be making his highly anticipated debut in the series versus the New York Yankees. The last player to make their debut at Yankee Stadium for Boston was Mookie Betts on June 29th, 2014.

jared duran era

Following a crazy ending to the first half of the season, the Red Sox look to bounce back starting tonight against their division rivals. The Red Sox will be at Yankee Stadium for four games, before heading to Buffalo to take on the Blue Jays. Right now, they are tied for the best record in the American League alongside the Houston Astros. It will be interesting to see how Boston fairs as we close in on the end of July. For now, the excitement is with rookie, Jarren Duran and his potential Major League Debut.

The Jarren Duran Era Has Begun in Boston

Boston’s top prospect, Jarren Duran will be looking to turn heads as he makes his highly anticipated Major League debut in the series vs the Yankees. The 24-year-old California native has spent the past few months raking in Triple A Worcester. In 46 games, he is batting .270 with 51 hits and 32 RBI’s. Duran has also hit 15 home runs on the season, and has stolen 12 bases. The Red Sox are hoping he will continue his success in Boston, as the Jarren Duran era has begun. Named one of Boston’s top prospects the past few years, Duran has had quite the path to the big leagues.

After spending three seasons with the California State University Long Beach State Beach baseball team, Duran was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2018. The seventh round draft pick split the 2018 season between the Lowell Spinners and the Greenville Drive. In 2019, Duran found himself playing for the Salem Red Sox until June 3rd, when he was promoted to the Double A Portland Sea Dogs. His success in 2019 granted Duran an invite to Spring Training in 2020. However, due to the pandemic, Duran didn’t get to see any baseball action until the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Duran led his team to the 2020-2021 championship, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the series. The Red Sox extended an invite to Duran for Spring Training 2021. Following Spring Training, Duran started the 2021 season with the Worcester Red Sox. Now, Duran is about to suit up for the big league ball club.

Battle in the Bronx

The Red Sox will be in the Bronx for four games against the Yankees. While all eyes will be on Jarren Duran, Boston will be looking to continue their success against the Yankees. Right now, Boston is 6-0 against the fourth place Yankees. As the Jarren Duran era has begun in Boston, the 55-36 Red Sox will be hoping to keep climbing in the American League. This first series back from the All-Star break will be an important one for both teams as we inch closer to the trade deadline on July 31st.

While the Yankees have yet to name starters for the series, the Red Sox are set and ready to roll. Thursday night’s opener will have Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5, 5.52 ERA) to start things off. Friday’s game will have Martin Perez (7-5, 4.04 ERA). Saturday night will feature All Star Nathan Eovaldi (9-5, 3.66 ERA). Finally, Sunday night baseball at Yankee Stadium will have Nick Pivetta (7-3, 4.09 ERA) to round things off.

The Road Ahead for Boston

Following their four game series vs the Yankees, Boston will be heading a bit north to Buffalo to take on the Toronto Blue Jays. The 45-42 Jays will be hosting the Texas Rangers starting Friday night in Buffalo. The Jays currently are in third place, and will be looking to bounce back in the second half of the season. Vladimir Guerrero Jr and company look to keep climbing in the AL East. This past week was a special one for the Jays. Not only did they have four players in the All-Star Game, but Guerrero Jr. won the All Star MVP Award. With that, he became the youngest player to win the award at age 22.

The Red Sox will be heading home to Fenway following the series in Buffalo. There, they will again take on the Yankees and the Jays. The next few weeks in Boston will be an interesting one for sure. With the trade deadline closing in, it will be interesting to see what Boston does. Also, Chris Sale may be joining the team next month. He is currently scheduled to be pitching in rehab games with the Portland Sea Dogs and the Worcester Red Sox. We are at the half way point of the season, and it is turning into something special for sure.

The Battle of the Rookies at the Trop

Last night, baseball fans saw not one, but two players make their Major League debut in the same game. Wander Franco and Connor Wong both made their debuts last night at Tropicana Field in Florida. Wander Franco may have come out of the gate hot, but Connor Wong and the Sox got the last laugh. Boston beat Tampa Bay 9-5 in a thriller of a game. The battle of the rookies will continue tonight, as the Red Sox look to take game 2 from the Rays.

battle of the rookies

Going into the 9th inning on Tuesday night, the game was tied 5-5. Boston was leading in the game following a 5 run 3rd inning. Then, Franco smashed a three run shot to left field to tie it up. Due to the MLB extra innings rule, Connor Wong came into the game to run for JD Martinez at 2nd base. The game broke open with a Rafael Devers double that scored Wong and Bogaerts. From there, the Red Sox secured the 9-5 victory.

The Battle of the Rookies Continues Tonight

The battle of the rookies is a fun thing, especially when it’s within the divisions. For Wander Franco and the Rays, this was a huge moment for their organization. The same can be said for Connor Wong and the Red Sox, however, Franco’s call up was more special, as he has been ranked in the top 5 for prospects since 2019. The last player to have a highly anticipated debut was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019. Franco was on the field sporting number 5 for the Rays, out of respect to his favorite player, Albert Pujols. In his first at bat against Eduardo Rodriguez, he worked a walk after being down 0-2 in the count. In his next at bat, Franco blasted a 3 run shot to left to tie the game. The 20 year old third baseman didn’t disappoint in his debut, going 2-4 in the game. Franco hit his first homerun, first RBI, first run, and was walked in the game.

On February 10th, 2020, the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price for Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong. Verdugo has made a name for himself here in Boston, while Downs and Wong have been doing well in the minor leagues. Well, following the Red Sox move to place Kevin Plawecki on the injured list, it was time for Wong to come up to the big leagues. Sporting the number 74, Wong made his debut as a pinch runner for JD Martinez. The 25 year old from Texas didn’t get a chance to play defensively last night, but Red Sox fans might be able to see him in the field soon, as Wong can play multiple positions.

Coming Up For Boston

After last night’s extra innings victory, the Red Sox look to continue their winning ways tonight against the Rays. Last night’s win allowed the Red Sox to be 1.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East. A win today will allow them to continue to hold down first place in the division. Garrett Richards will have the ball for Boston, and Rich Hill will be going up for Tampa Bay. Nick Pivetta is still slanted to pitch Thursday’s final game for Boston.

The Red Sox will welcome the Yankees to Fenway Park starting Friday night. It looks to be a special game on Friday, as Boston is honoring long time second baseman, Dustin Pedroia. This past offseason, Pedroia announced his retirement from baseball. The beloved second baseman will be greeted with cheers on Friday night. Following the Yankees series, the Red Sox will welcome back Andrew Benintendi and the Kansas City Royals for a four game set before heading back on the road to Oakland.

The Red Sox Battle For First Place In Tampa

The Red Sox will be in Tampa Bay for the next three days as they battle for first place with the Rays. Both teams are having a great 2021 season. Right now, the Rays are 0.5 games back of Boston, who took over first place in the American League East this past weekend. After three games, the standings may look a bit different. Either Boston will remain in first, or the Rays will reclaim the top shelf.

This will be a series to remember after Thursday’s game. The Rays top prospect, Wander Franco, will be making his Major League debut against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. His highly anticipated debut will come with a lot of pressure, as all eyes will be on him. The 20-year-old shortstop has been tearing it up in AAA Durham. He has a .315 average in 39 games with 7 homeruns. The Rays hope he can continue his success in the Major Leagues.

The Red Sox Battle For First Place Matchups

Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball in game one for Boston against the Rays’ Andrew Kittredge. Rodriguez is 5-4 on the season with a 6.21 ERA in 13 games. Last time out for E-Rod was a no decision in Atlanta. He went 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs, while striking out 8. Kittredge is 5-1 with a 1.34 in 2021. He got the no decision his last time out vs Seattle, only going 1.1 innings, and had one strikeout.

Wednesday’s game will feature Garrett Richards vs Rich Hill. Richards is 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA this season. His last start came against Atlanta, where he went 4 innings, giving up 7 hits and 4 runs while striking out 3. Former Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill will be going in game 2 for Tampa. He’s 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA this season. He went 5 innings in his last game vs Seattle, where he allowed 6 hits, 4 runs and had 5 strikeouts.

Thursday’s final game will have Nick Pivetta for Boston. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter for the game. Pivetta is currently 6-3 with a 4.36 ERA. He took the loss against Kansas City on June 18th. He went 5 innings, allowing 6 hits, and three runs while striking out 6 batters.

Players To Watch In The Series

While the world will have their eyes on Wander Franco, there are some other players to take note of in this series. Tampa Bay third baseman, Joey Wendle, has been doing great so far this season. The 31-year-old leads the team in five categories, including batting average and doubles. Currently, he has a .292 average, with 19 doubles on the season. He also has a slugging percentage of .491 and an on base percentage of .841. Even though he has 5 stolen bases on the season, he also has been caught 5 times, which leads the team. All in all, Wendle might be the difference maker for Tampa as they battle for first place.

Another player to take note of in the series is Red Sox starter, Nick Pivetta. In 14 games this season, he is 6-3 with a 4.36 ERA and has 86 strikeouts. The 28-year-old starter has the most strikeouts on the team, and batters are hitting .231 against him, which is the lowest of all the Red Sox pitchers. Pivetta started the season by winning six games in ten starts before getting the loss in June vs the Astros. Pivetta looks to get his first win of June against Tampa on Thursday.

All Star Game Update

Voting for the 2021 All Star Game concludes on Thursday. Right now, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez are slated to represent the Red Sox in Colorado on July 13th. Both Devers and Bogaerts are leading in their categories, while Martinez is in second place, behind Angels designated hitter, Shohei Ohtani. Alex Verdugo is currently in eighth place in the All Star Game voting, behind Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Byron Buxton. This will be Devers’ first All Star game, while Bogaerts will be making his third appearance, and Martinez will be making his fourth.

This looks to be an interesting All Star game for sure, as two former Colorado Rockies players may be on the roster. DJ LeMehieu is in third place to play second base in the American League. LeMehieu played for Colorado from 2012 to 2018 before signing with the Yankees prior to the 2019 season. Former Rockies star, Nolan Arenado, is in second place for the National League third basemen behind Kris Bryant of the Cubs. Arenado is in his first season with the Cardinals after being traded this past offseason. Arenado was drafted by Colorado, and was their third baseman from 2013 to 2020. His cousin, Joshua Fuentes is the current third baseman for the Rockies.