Danny Knobler: ‘Nobody Running Away With AL East’

The Boston Red Sox are 40-45. That’s not good. It’s not awful, but it’s not good.

But do you know what is good? The last-place Red Sox were once 28-39 but have won 12 of their last 18 games to pull within five games of the Yankees (44-39) in the AL East.

And there’s still a whole bunch of baseball to play.

“I’ll tell you what: The Yankees got to 81 games the other day – halfway through the season – and they were leading the division with 44 wins,” Bleacher Report MLB writer Danny Knobler said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “That’s an 88-win pace. Someone is going to outdo that in the second half, and someone will outdo it by quite a bit. Now it might be the Yankees who do it. The Red Sox obviously have to outdo it by quite a bit to come back. But what that tells you is nobody is running away with it.”

Indeed, the AL East is the only division in which every team still has a legitimate chance to win it. Fives games separate the first and last place teams. In every other division, that separation is at least 10 games. Heck, in the NL East, it’s 18 games (Nationals and Phillies). In the NL Central, it’s 19 games (Cardinals and Brewers).

The AL East, though, is up for grabs.

“I think it’s the most fascinating division in baseball,” Knobler said. “It’s not the best division in baseball anymore. There’s no question about that. Overall, they don’t have the great teams that they had 10 years ago. But what they do have is every team has a real chance, and that includes the Red Sox.”

The Red Sox have won seven of 10 to climb back into contention. Tampa Bay has lost nine of 10 but is still 43-43 and just two-and-a-half games back of the Yankees. The Blue Jays are holding steady at 44-42, as are the Orioles at 43-41.

“They’re all very different teams,” Knobler said. “The Rays have the starting pitching to beat everybody, but they can’t score and recently their bullpen has had trouble. The Red Sox, they’ve been a mess all along, but they’ve got some great players and some more great players coming back. Dustin Pedroia (is) coming back soon. The Yankees, they’ve outperformed what people think. They have a great end of the bullpen. (They’ll get even) better with Andrew Miller coming back from the DL. Great top of the order, but they’re old and you always think that those guys are going to get hurt or worn down. And the Orioles’ starting pitching has been up and down. We don’t know what to think of it. Bud Norris (was) pulled out of the rotation. And then the Blue Jays have the best offense by far int he game right now, but their pitching is just not good enough (to put them over the top). They’re one or tow games over .500. They should be better than they are. A lot of these teams could be better in the second half. That includes the Red Sox.”

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