Down the stretch: A look at the top AL East teams’ remaining schedules

August 12, 2013 - 9:54 am

All of a sudden, it'€™s mid-August. The Red Sox'€™ worst-to-first season that started as a cautiously optimistic hot start has seen them turn into bona fide contenders, so much so that missing the playoffs at this point would feel like a surprise to many. And despite taking only three of seven games against the Astros and Royals in the last week, the Red Sox saw their lead in the American League East stretch to three games over the Rays, who themselves have fallen on hard times, losing five in a row and seven of their last nine. The Orioles are right on the Rays'€™ heels, and although the division appears to be a three-horse race, the ever-present Yankees are lingering at 10 games back. Meanwhile, the preseason darling Blue Jays are in last place, nine games under .500 and 12.5 games back of a playoff spot of any sort. Here'€™s a look at what those top four teams have on their plate the next seven weeks. Red Sox 71-49, three games up in AL East Games left: 42 at home: 21      on the road: 21 Games against teams above .500: 28 Games against under .500: 14 Games against the top four in the AL East: 22 vs. Rays: 3 vs. Orioles: 9 vs. Yankees: 10 Other notes: Next week, the Red Sox will have a six-game West Coast swing against the Giants and Dodgers, who are at opposite ends of the NL West. The team flies west again for two games against the Rockies in late September '€¦ Nearly half of the Sox'€™ remaining games will come against the Orioles and Yankees. '€¦ Two of the final six ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games will feature the Red Sox, first against the Yankees (Aug. 18) and then against the Dodgers (Aug. 25), with a potential third on the horizon. The Red Sox-Yankees matchup Sept. 15 does not yet have a start time. '€¦ The Red Sox end their season against the Orioles in Baltimore, just as they did in 2011. Rays        66-50, three games back in AL East; 1.5 games up in wild card race Games left: 46 at home: 23      on the road: 23 Games against teams above .500: 24 Games against under .500: 22 Games against the top four in the AL East: 16 vs. Red Sox: 3 vs. Orioles: 7 vs. Yankees: 6 Other notes: The Rays have only two more off days, Aug. 22 and Sept. 9, until the end of the regular season. They wrap up their 2013 slate with 20 games in 20 days. Their only off day in their last 37 games will be a mandatory one for travel following a 10-game West Coast road trip against the Athletics, Angels and Mariners. '€¦ Ten games against division competition concludes the Rays'€™ regular season, with the final six of those contests coming on the road. '€¦ The Rays have only two series left with division leaders, both of them at home: three games against the Sox Sept. 10-12, then four against the Rangers Sept. 16-19. Orioles       65-52, 4.5 games back in AL East; 1.5 games back in wild card race Games left: 45 at home: 23      on the road: 22 Games against teams above .500: 32 Games against under .500: 13 Games against the top four in the AL East: 23 vs. Red Sox: 9 vs. Rays: 7 vs. Yankees: 7 Other notes: A three-game set against the Diamonbacks this Monday through Wednesday caps the Orioles'€™ eight-game road trip out west. When they fly back to Baltimore of Wednesday'€™s game, the Orioles will not leave the Eastern Time Zone until a potential playoff matchup. '€¦ Of the top four teams in the AL East, the Orioles arguably have the most difficult path to the postseason, one of the reasons being their final 20 games, broken up by a single off day, come against division foes. '€¦ Just like the Rays, Baltimore will not play any 8 p.m. Sunday night games. Yankees 59-57, 10 games back in AL East; seven games back in wild card race Games left: 46 at home: 24      on the road: 22 Games against teams above .500: 23 Games against under .500: 23 Games against the top four in the AL East: 23 vs. Red Sox: 10 vs. Rays: 6 vs. Orioles: 7 Other notes: If the Yankees'€™ playoff fate comes down to the wire, they have to like their chances late. Their last three games are against the Astros, who at 37-79 have the worst record in the major leagues. '€¦ Coincidentally, the Yankees join the Red Sox and Rays in playing exactly half of their remaining games at home. '€¦ The biggest challenge left for New York -- aside from their significant deficit in both the division and wild card races -- is arguably its 10-game road swing in mid-September. They will visit the O'€™s for four games, the Sox for three and the Jays for three. [poll id=64]