Rays and Orioles: Monsters under the AL East stairs

Sam Galanis
Contributing Writer

In recent years, the American League East has been, for lack of a better word, completely stacked. In fact, it hasn’t been uncommon to have all five teams at .500 or over, at least at some points in the season. And for the teams who sit at the top of the AL East, that makes winning the division that much harder.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Well, no one ever thought it would be easy for the Red Sox to win the division. Actually, no one really thought they would win it at all. But now that the season is ever-so-swiftly approaching the end, it’s clear which two teams pose the biggest threat to knocking the Sox off the top of the AL East come the end of September: the Rays and the Orioles.

So, which team is more dangerous? Right now it seems like it would be the Rays. They had an unbelievable July, going 21-5. The Orioles actually had a losing July (by one game) at 12-13. Not to mention, the Rays are a better pitching team and have the second least amount of runs allowed in the league, while the Orioles are lugging around a 4.27 team ERA.

Chris Davis, the scariest Oriole.
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
Still, as is evident by the Rays current five-game losing streak, all good things must come to an end. Tampa kicked up their momentum, but momentum isn’t as helpful in July as it is in September. Also, the Orioles offense is a huge threat to the standings. If what I’ve been told over and over again by coaches throughout my life is true, then offense wins games, and defense wins championships. It still being the “games” portion of the season, the O’s definitely have the ability to pull themselves up higher in the AL East.

If you asked me who had a better chance over the Red Sox based on numbers alone, I’d definitely go with the Rays. But if I get to factor in outside forces, I have to go with the Orioles. As the third place team, they have a lot more motivation to do well. Of course every team wants to guarantee themselves the division, but you can still make the playoffs in second place, especially if you’re second place in the AL East.

There’s also the fact that the Orioles seem to have some sort of mystical power over the Sox that prevents the Sox from beating them. Buck Showalter boasts a 30-22 career record against the Sox, with a 6-4 record against them on the season that includes two series wins. The Sox have the upperhand over the Rays this season so far with a 10-5 record.

So while the Rays may be the more athletically imposing team for the Sox, the Orioles have shown that they’re good at being underdogs. And as much as Sox fans don’t like to talk about 2011, it’s the undeniable proof that the Orioles can be scary.

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