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Scott Kingery, left, and Giancarlo Stanton. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Baseball

A Good Time To Be A Phillies or Yankees Fan

The MLB playoff races in the American and National Leagues are quite different looking this year.

After a sweep of New York this weekend, Boston has a big lead in the AL East, as does Cleveland in a weak AL Central. Houston has the second best record in baseball, and a four-game lead over Oakland in the West. Seattle sits 6.5 games back, but is playing .571 baseball, and is only 2.5 games out of a wild card themselves. And no one else in the entire AL is over .500. So, it is a pretty safe bet that the five play-off teams will come from these six. And it is only August 6.

In the NL, no one is running away with a division, and the parity will keep playoff hopes alive well into September. The Philadelphia Phillies actually have the largest lead on any division, sitting  1 1/2 games on top the NL East. There are nine teams within 6 1/2 games of a Wild Card slot, and seven teams within 6 1/2 games of their division lead. Time to dredge up old memories of historic comebacks and collapses if you are not in the mix above.

But for two of our local teams who are certainly in the mix, what did we learn from their vastly different experiences over the past weekend?  

Let’s start with the Phillies, who swept a four-game set against the lowly Miami Marlins. How lowly? Well, divisional last place lowly, with only the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres winning less frequently. They beat a team that they should beat, a key to championships in any sport. Upsets, let-downs and looking past an opponent, are all trademarks of good teams who do not become champions.

The Phillies took care of business, and after a two-game set against West leading Arizona Diamondbacks, they will then have a chance to do the same against the aforementioned Padres. After their western swing, they return home to face the Red Sox for three games. The Phillies took one out of three against the Yankees last month, so how they fare against the BoSox could be telling. We may have an odds on favorite in the NL if things play out well for Philadelphia over the next few series. If they don’t, they are still very much in the mix. A good time to be a Phillies fan!

About the only good thing the New York Yankees can take away from the Boston Massacre is that David Price still can’t beat them. That, and the fact that Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi are not going to win the Cy Young Award, despite their dominant starts against New York last weekend.

The Red Sox are the best team in baseball, and playing with the confidence that comes from the ability to win in so many ways. But in fact, the Yankees were slightly better head to head with the Sox this year prior to this weekend. They have been the only division team especially able to match-up with any degree of success, and they have six more games against the Red Sox.

The Yankees bounced back last night against the White Sox, and frankly play the softest part of their schedule in the coming weeks. And well before the leaves begin to turn, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge will be back. If snake-bitten Clint Frazier can finally catch a break, he may add to the offensive depth as well. And we will see Justus Sheffield this season.

Almost unnoticed amidst the playoff frenzy, the New York Yankees will soon achieve their 26th consecutive winning season, the second longest such winning streak in baseball history. Second only to the team who put together a streak of 39 consecutive winning seasons: the New York Yankees. Even in the only decade they did not win a World Championship, they had more wins than any team in baseball. So in fact, it is s good time to be a Yankee fan as well, as they ramp up for yet another pennant run.

Wayne Heinze
Wayne Heinze

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