Keep your eyes to the sky in the Big Apple and Beantown. As far as fans of the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox are concerned, the sky may be falling.
Well maybe the sky isn’t falling, but their respective division leads that once seemed untouchable are certainly crumbling, and that is definitely reason for concern in two cities that wear their hearts on their sleeves when it comes to their hometown ballclubs.
On Sept. 12, the Mets held a seven-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, a lead that any team would take, especially with only 17 games left to play, and three of those games at home against the Phillies, giving them a chance to bury them.
But where would this game be without some drama in September? Of course the Mets were swept by the Phillies for the second time in less than a month and have proceeded to lose their series opener against the lowly Washington Nationals to stretch their losing streak to five games. As of Wednesday, their lead has dwindled to 1.5 with 12 regular season games to go.
The Phillies, on the other hand, are heating up at the right time. They have won six straight heading into their final 11 games.
Pitching and defense may win championships, but Philly is testing that theory with their superior offensive play. They rank in the top three in 13 offensive categories in the National League.
It’s a good thing the offense is so powerful, however, because the pitching is shaky to say the least.
While Cole Hamels has had a great season, he has been plagued with injuries.
In the bullpen, Tom Gordon is definitely on the downside of his career, and Brett Myers is never a sure thing to close out a game.
Mets Manager Willie Randolph was asked by some of his players to hold a team meeting before Tuesday’s game, lead one to think that the team is feeling the pressure.
The effects of the meeting lasted only one inning when, in the top of the first inning, the Mets gained a four-run lead, only to give it up and lose the game 8-9.
John Maine, who went 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA prior to the All-Star game to help lead the pitching staff, seems to be running on fumes now as he has gone 4-6 with a 6.16 ERA since. Pedro Martinez is back, and he looks to be regaining his old form, but putting too many eggs in that basket could be dangerous.
The always-entertaining American League East has been nothing less than Broadway-quality this season.
On June 5, the Boston Red Sox had a 14.5 game lead over the New York Yankees. That lead has all but disappeared.
The Bronx Bombers, led by Alex Rodriguez, have climbed to within 2 and a half games of the Sox.
Early in the season, the Yankees’ pitching staff was left for dead until Phil Hughes and Roger Clemens came to town and joined Chein-Ming Wang to form a formidable crew.
Fans in Beantown are beginning to remember the 1978 season when the Yankees were 14.5 games back in July and proceeded to storm back to win the division and make Bucky Dent a household name in New England.
Boston has problems all over the field right now. Injuries to Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp have removed them from the daily lineup.
Luckily for the Sox, they are deep in pitching and their lineup has enough pop to beat up any pitching staff. Should they be able to keep that in order, it shouldn’t matter what happens in New York.
To the fans in New York and Boston; don’t jump off that ledge just yet. Though they may be struggling right now, remember, the Mets and Red Sox are still in first place. This is why they play those games in April.