BOSTON (CBS) — Fresh off a four-game split with the Mariners in Seattle, the Red Sox are now 49-24 on the season and atop the AL East.
However, they’re not alone. The Yankees are technically percentage points ahead of Boston in the standings at 46-21, but they have played six fewer games due to a number of rain-outs. Their schedule will get pretty busy as they try to cram in all those makeups (with a pair of double-headers on the schedule), but the tight snapshot atop the division is what we should expect from the two rivals the rest of the season.
Tony Massarotti from 98.5 The Sports Hub joined Steve Burton on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night to discuss the Red Sox as they near the midway point of the season, and he still thinks the Yankees will ultimately win the division. But he sees it as a tight battle until the very end, which could come down the three-game series between the two at Fenway Park to close the regular season.
“I do think this has the potential to be a race where one team wins 106 games and the other wins 104. I wouldn’t rule that out,” said Mazz.
Boston’s superstars J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts and Chris Sale have mostly led the charge so far this season, but Mazz says there are other X factors on the team who will have to step up if the team wants to make any noise come October. Martinez and Betts will have to keep crushing the ball and Sale needs to keep setting down opponents, but Boston’s postseason success will rely on three players hitting their respective ceilings: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and David Price.
“I look at those three guys and say there is huge room for gain there. There is inconsistency, but the best — the ceiling — for those three guys is high,” said Mazz. “With Devers, you’re talking about a kid who just got into the big leagues less than a year ago, so there is room to grow. You could get a 30-35 home run guy if he starts firing on all cylinders. Bogaerts, could be a guy who hits .290 with 20 homers, and you’re starting to see the power that we could thought he could produce. He already has more homers than he did last year.”
After struggling in May, Bogaerts is slashing .274/.352/.516 in June with three homers and six RBIs in his last four games. Devers has struggled in his first full season in the majors, but has turned it on as of late, hitting safely in 12 of his last 13 games with multi-hit games in three of his last four. He launched a three-run homer in Sunday’s win over the M’s, his 11th blast of the season.
As for Price, the lefty has shrugged off any off-field drama and won six of his last seven starts, with the team victorious in each of those seven contests. Price is 8-4 on the year with a 3.74 ERA for the year.
“If those guys play at a high level, the Red Sox are loaded,” said Mazz. “Sale-Price at the head of the rotation, now you have two guys to worry about. In the lineup it’s Martinez, Betts, Bogaerts, Devers, and [Andrew] Benintendi on top of it; all of a sudden it doesn’t matter if Christian Vazquez or [Jackie] Bradley hits. It’s a lot of those other guys who really deepen out your high-end talent.”
Watch Steve Burton and Tony Massarotti’s full discussion in the video above and tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35pm on WBZ-TV!