The AL East has historically been one of the most dominate divisions in all of baseball. Much of this has had to do with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, though the Orioles had their glory days with Cal Ripken Jr. and the Blue Jays and Rays have had a few runs during each of their franchises. Last year, the race in the AL East was incredibly hot, as the Orioles finished just 5-games behind the Red Sox – who would eventually go on to win the World Series- and the Yankees and Rays finished with identical 85-77 records. This year could be another great one for the AL East, with plenty of storylines already taking place.
The Red Sox and Orioles starting the opening week of their season with a series against one another. While the Orioles won the first game in a 2-1 showdown, the Red Sox came back on Wednesday night and earned the 6-2 victory. Both teams are now sitting at 1-1 in the division and they’ll finish things up with game three of the series on Thursday night.
The Blue Jays and Rays also opened the season playing in divisional games against one another. Despite losing their opening game on Monday, 9-2, the Blue Jays came back and won the next two games, 4-2 and 3-0. That 2-1 mark puts the Blue Jays atop the AL East. With as much firepower as the rest of the teams in this division have, the Blue Jays will need as much of a lead as they can if they look to hold off everyone else fighting for a playoff spot. As for the Rays, they have a chance to get even on Thursday night when these teams finish off their four-game series to start the season.
No matter how the Yankees do this year, the story of Derrick Jeter playing in his last season is likely to be the biggest headline in the league. The Yankees have started their season with two consecutive losses to the Houston Astros, 6-2 and 3-1. In the first game, Yankees ace CC Sabathia gave up six runs on eight hits and didn’t seem to be as unhittable as he was during spring training. In the second game, Dexter Fowler got the Astros on the board with a homerun to center in the first and then an RBI in the third. The Yankees were able to put one on the board in the top of the 7th, but the Astros still walked away with the 3-1 win. So far this season, Jeter is hitting .167 after going 2-6 on Tuesday and 1-3 on Wednesday.
Sure, the season is barely a week in and this division is likely one that will be a complete race from start to finish. But not many people probably projected the Blue Jays to be atop the division and the Yankees to be winless after the first few days of the season. That being said, the cluster of teams in the middle should come as no surprise and that might be how things go throughout the year.
Here is a look at the teams in the AL East and their projections for winning the 2014 World Series:
Boston Red Sox : 10/1
New York Yankees : 11/1
Tampa Bay Rays : 15/1
Baltimore Orioles : 25/1
Toronto Blue Jays : 40/1