Zach Britton's Orioles are in the hunt for another postseason bid. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

How rest of AL East views Red Sox at All-Star break: 'I hope they don't figure it out'

Mike Petraglia
July 14, 2015 - 3:25 pm
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CINCINNATI -- All is not lost for the 2015 Boston Red Sox. Just ask the best players from their competition in the AL East. When the Red Sox return from the break in Anaheim on Friday, they'll do so with a 42-47 record, 6 1/2 games behind front-running New York in the division. They sent just one player to the Midsummer Classic, and he was a utility player in Brock Holt. Certainly Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez could have all made cases, and even Manny Machado thinks Bogaerts should've been here. But when the team reassembles on Friday, those players will be together and have 73 games to figure things out. The Yankees are 48-40, with a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay. The Orioles, the defending division champs are treading water at 44-44, four games back in third. Toronto, which blazed to an 11-game winning streak, has cooled mightily since, posting just an 11-16 mark and heading into the break at 45-46. They are 4 1/2 games back. Then there are the Red Sox. "I think they're a good team," Red Sox killer and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson told WEEI.com Tuesday. "Obviously, they have pieces there that are well thought of. Honestly, I hope they don't figure it out because I want my team to figure it out. "What's cool about it is every team has a lot of talent. But on the other side of the coin, teams have weaknesses. Certain teams in our division match up better against other teams. With that being said, I feel like it's going to be one of those things that comes down to the wire. It's going to be a war of attrition, whoever can stay the healthiest. Everybody is kind of right there in the mix. Every team has the capabilities of going on their stretches, too." And what about that last-place standing and being 6 1/2 games out? "Ned Yost said it earlier. He said at the [2014] All-Star Game, they were eight games back and ended up getting in the wild card game. And who knows? There's a lot of good teams out there," Donaldson said. "I wouldn't be surprised if two wild cards came from the East or if none came from the East. It's just one of those things if some of these teams, hopefully ours, gets rolling, you have a lot of capability on all teams throughout the entire division." Orioles closer Zach Britton might have had the most insightful take of any opposing player in the division about the division race so far. "Pretty inconsistent. I think everyone would agree with that," Britton told WEEI.com. "I feel like the division is too good to have the records we have but we also have been beating up on each other, too. It seems like we're all hot at the same time, we're all cold at the same time, which is something you don't see too often. It's going to take one team to get on a nice roll to probably win the division. "It'll be a nice little roll for somebody. And that's what it took for us last year around the West Coast trip that we had. We came back, played really good baseball, won a lot of game. We came back and were in first place by a good margin. There's going to be a series in there in the second half or a road trip or a swing that's really going to determine who's going to win this division. And the Red Sox? "Their offense is really good," Britton added. "They're about to get Pedroia back off the DL. He's seems like a guy when he's in the lineup, he can do some special things. He's got a knack for getting momentum going on their side. I don't overlook anybody because our division is so close and there's so much talent within the division that just one little hot streak, anybody can be there. "I think it's comes down to the pitching. Who's going to be the most consistent pitching staff the second half. The lineups are going to score runs in our division. It's inevitable. So, who's going to pitch the best and most consistent over the second half is going to win the division." One thing Britton can relate to is the bullpen issues the Red Sox are having, particularly before the eighth inning when they rely on Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. "I feel like managers really lean on the bullpen in the second half. Everyone really, really wants to get the postseason and that's when the leash on the starters isn't as long in the second half of the season. Unless you're a team like the Nationals with just an unbelievable rotation. Most teams, they really rely on their bullpen these days. Ned Yost has brought that out, how important it is to use your bullpen. It's huge. And that's what we do for Orioles. Buck relies on us to go out there and not just be able to thrown an inning but multiple innings. There's a lot of pressure that's down on the bullpen in the second half of the season. "I think with Boston, just like everybody else, how consistent can their pitching be? We're in the same boat." Mark Teixeira is on the first-place Yankees. What's his view from the top? "Nothing's going to be given to us, obviously," Teixeira said. "You have four quality teams below us, and any one of those teams could go on a run here and take over the lead. So, we have to be on top of our game. "In the game today, with the amount of young talent, you never known who that young pitcher is coming up, or that young position player that takes off, can really turn a team around. So, you just look all around the league and all around our division, there's great players everywhere. I'm not surprised that anyone's in it. You've seen that, when healthy, we have the talent to win. It was great seeing [Jacoby Ellsbury] come back, great seeing Andrew Miller come back. We're getting Carlos [Beltran] back here soon. We have all the pieces that we need to make a playoff run."

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