By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Before the season started, no sane people were forecasting a 17-2 start for the Red Sox or a 17-1 stretch for the Yankees. But for the most part, we all expected these two teams to be good.
Lo and behold, here we all are smack dab in the middle of May, and the Red Sox and Yankees are both good. They’re tied atop the AL East, with each team boasting a shiny 28-12 record. There’s reason for healthy optimism in both Boston and the Bronx.
But with the Red Sox now stabilized with a couple of victories following their “skid” of losing three out of four games, they’re now positioned to get back out in front of the Yankees before the month of June rolls around.
Much like it did through the month of April, the Red Sox’ opportunity comes from the quality of opponents — or, for the most part, a lack thereof.
Here’s a look at the Red Sox’ opponents for their final five full series of the month, along with the records of those opponents:
RED SOX OPPONENTS IN MAY
@ Tampa Bay, 16-22
COMBINED RECORD: 93-116 (.450)
And here’s a look at the Yankees’ opponents for that same span:
YANKEES OPPONENTS IN MAY
@ Washington**, 24-18
@ Kansas City, 13-27
@ Texas, 16-26
Los Angeles Angels, 24-16
COMBINED RECORD: 103-103 (.500)
The Red Sox also have the benefit of playing 13 of their next 16 games at home, where they own an 11-4 record this year. The Yankees will be on the road for eight straight games, though their 10-5 road record doesn’t exactly portend doom in that matter.
Of course, wins don’t come automatically for good teams against bad teams. Even this year, the Red Sox have been a little spotty against bad teams. They’ve dropped three games to the 16-22 Rays, they lost twice (and got no-hit) to the sub-.500 A’s, and took a six-run loss to the Rangers, who are now 16-26. Barring a baseball miracle, the Red Sox won’t go on another 17-2 run here.
But when laying the schedules down side-by-side, the Red Sox are definitely better positioned to regain their footing atop the division and gain at least a little bit of separation from the Yankees. In a divisional race that already looks like it’s going to come down to the final days of the season, every little bit will help.