In the AL North, the White Sox are keeping a blistering pace...their .786 start would translate to 127 wins over the 162-game schedule. Possible? For the most part, they're doing it with pitching - 2.73 team ERA. Pretty much the whole staff is throwing well, but they're really getting great outings from their 2 big middle relievers, Esmil Gonzalez (3 wins, 4 saves, 1.17 ERA) and Kevin Chong (1 win, 6 saves, 1.73 ERA). Despite a .701 OPS (10th), the offense has scored the 3rd-most runs in the AL. Magglio Rodriguez is doing his thing (.444 OBP) and SS Jack Ratliff's .836-OPS start has been a pleasant surprise. But the rest of the lineup has been quiet...what happens if they start hitting?
Minnesota (C Joel Dorsey - .342/7/16) with their crazy all-relief pitching scheme (Brian Murata - 5 wins, 1.57 ERA, J.J. Bibby - 4 wins, 0.81 Whip) and Detroit (Lucas Ford - .346/6/20, Cano - 3-2, 2.40 ERA) are playing well and trying to hang in, but both may be adjusting their goals to "Wild Card" soon. After a horrendous start, Toronto has won 4 of 8 and could be righting the ship.
Boston's pitching wasn't great last year, but it was nearly good enough. Not so with this year's 5.04 ERA. Taylor Cashman's doing his part (2.63 ERA), but the rest of the rotation is mostly north of 6.00. Good thing the lineup's clicking - they lead the league in runs and homers. Pleasant Surprise Department: CF D.J. Nicholson has been a pretty good-hitting CF over his career (.771 OPS); he's currently 2nd in the AL with 12 homers and his 1.162 OPS leads the league.
The Red Sox' pitching problems have left the door open for the rest of the AL East; they haven't exactly walked through it but none are getting it slammed in their faces either. The Indians are getting just enough hitting (Rod McNeil - .265/5/14) - combined with some surprise pitching performances (Rodney Stuart - 3 wins, 18 scoreless innings). Despite currently riding an L9, the Orioles are only 3 back. FA C Lonny Soto has provided the spark with a .343/4/17 start. And after years of rebuilding, the Yankees are getting competitive. Vin Gumbs, last year's #1 overall who jumped virtually straight to the Bigs, has taken a few lumps but is holding his own with a 2-2 record and a 3.57 ERA. ROY, anyone?