Red Sox trending up while rival Yanks struggle

July 8th, 2024

There was one season going on at the top of the American League East less than a month ago after the games of June 13. There sure is another one going on now, with the Red Sox and the Yankees, and even the Orioles. It starts here: On that date, the Yankees had the best record in baseball at 49-22. They were 2 1/2 games better than the Orioles and were better than everybody -- especially the Red Sox, who were 35-34 at the end of play on June 13, 13 games behind the Yankees, 12 in the loss column.

But now, after a Sunday night game where hit two home runs as the Sox beat the Yankees, 3-0, the Yankees are about as close to the Red Sox in the standings as they are the Orioles. They are three behind Baltimore -- four in the loss column and just 4 1/2 games better than Boston, three in the loss column. This has all happened in 3 1/2 weeks, fast and furiously.

But then it has been going like that, for both of these teams -- two teams currently going in different directions as we head toward the All-Star break -- for nearly a month. The Yankees, just because of the way they had looked and the way they had played over the first 2 1/2 months, have been a massive surprise in June and July as they have gone the wrong way -- just because they had gone all the way to the top of the sport without Gerrit Cole, who didn’t make his first start until June 19.

The Red Sox, though -- the way they have come on after being a .500 team into the middle of the June -- continue to be the surprise team of the moment.

Of course, the Yankees have had injuries, too, starting with Cole in Spring Training. Giancarlo Stanton, who was having himself a time at the plate, got hurt again. So did Anthony Rizzo. But the Red Sox lost Lucas Giolito in Spring Training, then Garrett Whitlock. They lost their shortstop, Trevor Story, in early April, and then one of their power guys, first baseman Triston Casas.

But manager Alex Cora, doing the best work of his career in the last year of a contract, refused to concede anything. Devers just keeps coming on like gangbusters. , now an All-Star the way Devers and the team’s ace Tanner Houck are, has been one of the most complete offensive players in baseball. And Rafaela, another streak of light, has become one of the most exciting young players anywhere.

“Understanding where we are in the standings, we have to just keep getting greedy,” Cora said after Sunday night’s game.

Cora keeps talking about how much fun his team is having, and it shows, because there is no team more fun to watch these days before the break than the Red Sox are. They are coming off two straight last-place seasons in the division. There was no guarantee a month ago that they wouldn’t start falling again in that direction again.

Instead, there has been a baseball rising in Boston, one that started against the Yankees in the middle of June and continued against the Yankees through this past weekend, all the way to them being in the third Wild Card spot in the AL.

Plenty has changed in a month, both ends of The Rivalry. Same way every year. Not just one season in baseball. A lot of them.