Fact: The New York Yankees went 19-10 in May, the best record in Major League Baseball.
Fact: The Tampa Bay Rays are still ... uh, really great. Their hot start may be based on absurd offensive leaps rather than pitching acumen, but it's all still real. They've banked 40 wins before the start of June. They're a force to be reckoned with.
But that doesn't mean this whole thing is over. That doesn't mean the Yankees will track them down and repeat as AL East champions. It just means that a six-game deficit entering the month is nothing. A hot two weeks could theoretically exterminate it, no matter what the Rays do.
Want to get bold? Let's get bold. Let's get as bold as MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, who believes the Yankees will pass both Aaron Hicks' Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East standings by the end of June.
MLB Standings: Yankees to pass Rays, Orioles in AL East by end of...June?!
The kicker? He doesn't ... totally go all in. He doesn't think the Yankees will ultimately win the division, it sounds like. It just seems like he believes they'll have their day in the sun before the month wraps.
"Do I take pleasure in predicting that the barons from the Bronx will (at least temporarily) overtake the Rays and Orioles -- two of the absolute best stories in MLB?- Anthony Castrovince
No. I do not.
But I’ve seen this movie too many times. We grow comfortable – perhaps even giddy -- with the concept of the Yankees being something other than elite, and then they flex their muscles and fly to first. Record-wise, they’ve already shown enough life of late to crawl out of their ill-fitting fifth-place standing at the start of May, but I would argue they really haven’t played particularly well yet."
Sorry, why are the Rays one of the "absolute best stories in MLB"? Wage suppression? Hear you on the Orioles, not so much on Tampa's machine.
Regardless, Castrovince seems to believe the Yankees will persevere through their "bear" of a June schedule (featuring six with the Red Sox, as well as a trip to Dodger Stadium and faceoffs with the Mets and Rangers) to wind up atop the mountain before the All-Star break.
Hope so! Hope they hold on, too. Wouldn't that be the "best story in MLB"? The plucky, underdog, comeback Yankees tracking down the big, bad Rays?