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Red Sox, Yankees Fight For AL East Victory

By Yong-yi Zhu

With three games to go until the big showdown between the Yankees and the Red Sox, the question on everyone’s mind is who will win the American League East?

It is somewhat surreal how the Yankees, for the first time in ages, are trying to gnaw their way through the competition into the lead. The looming possibility that no New York team will make the postseason is shocking.

The Yankees are still struggling to find their starting rotation. Jaret Wright was devastated during his last outing, but the rest of the rotation has done a much better job even amidst multiple injuries. Shawn Chacon has been solid, and so has the 9-0 Aaron Small. Mike Mussina is off and on, but he should bounce back. The one super-staple to the team in terms of their pitching is Randy Johnson. He has dominated and has been pitching no-hit games consistently through the opening innings of every game.

The Sox are probably going to throw David Wells, Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield against the likes of the Yankees’ Chien-Ming Wang, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina. The way I see it, the two teams will split the first two games of the series, and I’d give the edge to Wakefield and the Red Sox in the third, simply because of how effectively he has been throwing the ball lately.

That means that the Yankees must be one game up on the Sox in order to make it to some sort of playoff for the American League East. But they are playing the rock-bottom Baltimore Orioles. There is no real telling who will walk away from this into the postseason.

Those other playoff races

AL Central: Can the Indians catch the White Sox, who were light-years ahead of the pack two months ago? Now the Sox are stuck in the pit waiting for repairs, their lead shrinking to almost nothing.

The coming showdown between the two has not highlighted as much as the Red Sox and the Yankees, but it will be just as exciting. I still look for the White Sox to end up on top in the division.

AL West: The Angels have put the youngster A’s back in their place. Billy Beane’s genius almost paid off. As they say, close but no postseason.

AL Wild Card: It’s between the Indians, the White Sox, the Red Sox and the Yankees. I think the Indians, playing Kansas City before hosting the Southsiders, have the easiest schedule and should take this away, leaving one AL East team home for the festivities.

National League East: Do we ever need to worry about the Braves? Regular season superiority, but post season mediocrity.

NL Central: Two words: St. Louis.

NL “Worst”: Not much has changed in this pathetic little world. The leader, San Diego, is still hovering around .500, looking to wrap it all up.

NL Wild Card: Houston is still the leading candidate. The Phillies are trying to make a push, but with the Astros’ rotation for last couple of games, it will be difficult to overtake them. I still think Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt are the best 1-2-3 punch in the majors.