Just before Opening Day, the Baltimore Orioles acquired Danny Couloumbe’s contract from the Minnesota Twins, and as Couloumbe prepared to sign with them, ex-teammate Emilio Pagan gave him some last-minute advice.
Emilio Pagan asked him, “You ready for the AL Beast?,” according to Couloumbe’s account of their chat on the day of his transfer. What do you mean, I questioned? Just wait, he commanded. It’s a gruelling race.
You’re glad there are less (divisional) games this year, he added.
The remainder of Major League Baseball has received bad news because of that excellent fortune.
The league’s decision to reduce interdivisional games from 19 to 13 per opponent will provide respite for a division that has long been dominated by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, two teams with significant revenue. The Toronto Blue Jays are hoping to take advantage of talents Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette while they are still in their prime years, while the Rays and Orioles, who now hold the top records in the AL and are both potentially nearing the peak of their respective seasons, have five teams in the East.
No division in a major league has ever managed to go 85-39 (.686 winning percentage) against teams outside of their division, and all five clubs in the AL East are above.500.
Yeah, yeah, Mother’s Day is still a ways off, the sample size is still taking shape, and there are still nearly five months to go. However, that record covers more than 120 games, and there is anecdotal and other evidence that suggests this unjust battle may not be settled:
— The Rays’ 29-7 start is the best in the team’s history, and only five teams since 1901 have had a better record. They outperform opponents 73–23 and have an ace. After pitching six scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over the Orioles on Monday, Shane McClanahan improved to 7-0 with a 1.76 ERA, two victories more than any other starter in the major league.
In 46 innings this season, McClanahan has struck out 58 batters. “We’re good at staying in the moment,” he says. “Everyone, including myself, is asking, “All right, what do I have to do right now to help this team win? It makes no difference if something occurs. Respond.
What do you know? Pass on. And that’s one thing I notice about this team: they’re in the present at bat after bat and play after play.
— Baltimore has a record of 22-13, which ranks third in baseball. They are now 70–50 since July 1 of last year, which may be more significant and indicates that the young movement is beginning to bear fruit.
The Red Sox began the season with a record of 5-8, but have since won 16 of 23 games, taking series victories against first-place Minnesota and Milwaukee as well as the Blue Jays for the first time since 2002.
— The East is where nice stories go to die, like the Pittsburgh Pirates team that started 20-9 before losing six straight games by a combined score of 37-7 to the Rays and Blue Jays.
Not for the weak-hearted.
Zach Eflin, a right-handed pitcher for the Rays, claims that “every single team, they’re just loaded.” Eflin’s Phillies side also had to contend with tough NL East opponents. Even the Orioles have a wealth of young talent and ambitious players who strive to improve daily.
“Every team is doing well. The entire AL East is going to be in a dogfight.
and a severe unfairness to the other competitors.