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Red Sox 7, Orioles 3: This team has officially separated itself

Rob Bradford
April 13, 2018 - 10:33 pm

Well, we still haven't seen the Blue Jays.

It was no secret that everyone who followed the great game of baseball knew the Red Sox and Yankees were almost certainly going to be atop the American League East, with a sizable drop-off to a third-place team. Fair.

But after watching New York come to town for three games, and then getting a glimpse of the Orioles Friday night, Alex Cora's team has to be considered king of the early-season hill without much debate. That was cemented thanks to the Red Sox' 11th win in 13 tries this season, a 7-3 decision over Buck Showalter and Co. in the first of a four-game set. (For a complete recap, click here.)

The Yankees are legitimate. But when you match up what they've delivered thus far - from the top of the rosters to the bottom - the Red Sox would seem to clearly have an edge. Better starting pitching. Deeper lineup. More trustworthy closer. And New York's one perceived advantage, the set-up men, haven't been much more reliable than what the Sox have carted out.

That leads us to what the Orioles are selling.

Perhaps this game wasn't a fair representation considering they were starting a pitcher, Chris Tillman, who was winless in his last 20 starts. Make that 21 after allowing six runs over two innings.

Like Toronto, Baltimore's rotation isn't horrific, as is evident by the final three starters of the series -- Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner. Then throw in Kevin Gausman and you have at least a chance to win in four of the five spots. The Orioles also are bringing back an offense that has always been difficult to deal with (although they did come in with the third-lowest batting average in the American League at just .216).

Still, while these teams can be good, the Red Sox are clearly -- as of now -- better.

Even without two of their hottest hitters, Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox offense continued to keep the line moving. No team in baseball has scored more runs over the past six games than the Sox, having now totaled 52 since April 7.

It was, however the presence of Eduardo Rodriguez that truly defined how the Red Sox may be separating themselves.

After a lackluster first outing, the lefty came back to give up just one run over six innings, striking out eight along the way. Rodriguez punctuated his night by fanning Chris Davis with the starter's 104th pitch of the night (marking the first time a Red Sox starter had thrown more than 99 pitches).

This version of Rodriguez represents something none of the other American League clubs can come close to -- a bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher who has the capability to live in the rarified air of the top of most rotations. And if it does continue, then the only mystery will be the effectiveness of a pitcher who won 17 games a year ago, Drew Pomeranz.

Maybe once we see the Blue Jays the conversation will change. They are, after all, 9-5 after beating Cleveland Friday night. Yet while a nice surprise, comparing them to what we've witnessed with the Red Sox seems somewhat of a reach.

Things can change in a hurry. Another David Price injury. Nobody steps up to become Craig Kimbrel's set-up man. There are avenues to stumbling upon a downturn. 

As we sit here, however, it's the Red Sox in this division and then everybody else.

- With their 11th win in 13 games, the Red Sox matched their best 13-game start in franchise history (also 1918).

- The Red Sox starting pitchers are 8-1 with a 1.97 ERA, having allowed one or no runs in 10 of 13 starts this season, and three runs or fewer in all but one outing.

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