Right now, the American League standings are all about offense.
The AL's top five teams in runs scored — Boston, Toronto, Cleveland, Baltimore and Texas — are also the five teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended now. It's no shock that a high-scoring offense can lead to more wins, but the Red Sox and Rangers in particular are in this position despite middling performances on the mound.
Texas and Boston have allowed the fourth- and fifth-most runs in the AL. Perhaps that will change now that Yu Darvish of the Rangers is back from the disabled list — and after the Red Sox traded for All-Star Drew Pomeranz in an attempt to bolster their starting rotation.
That move was an indication that Boston isn't comfortable simply trying to outslug teams all season.
"I still think that — and we've seen it ourselves — when we face good pitching, good pitching is likely to shut down good hitting," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I don't see that changing."
Despite leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, the Red Sox are a couple games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. Texas, meanwhile, has lost nine of its last 12 and now leads Houston by only 4 ½ games in the AL West. The Rangers had a double-digit advantage toward the end of last month.
The race in the East could be especially intriguing. Baltimore's team ERA of 4.31 isn't much better than Boston's 4.38.
"When you look at, whether it's Baltimore or us or other clubs, you're looking at starting rotation ERA probably in the bottom half, so I think it speaks volumes to the number of runs that can be put up on a more consistent basis than some other clubs," Farrell said. "But I would like to think that the most complete team is the one that emerges to advance."