In a weekend that saw two of the top NL East teams get swept by their AL counterparts, Monday’s edition of The Commish asked the question, how good is the NL East really? “When you match them (AL East teams & NL East teams) up, head to head, I think we really start to get a gage on how good the NL East is, and maybe the NL East is a little overrated,” said The Commish, Justin Pawlowski.
The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Miami Marlins in a dominating display during the Citrus Series, outscoring the Marlins 22-7 after three games. This came after a series loss to the Yankees that had the home town fans wondering if the Rays had enough strength offensively to win games.
“The bats woke up. Matt Joyce hit a homerun on Friday. Elliot Johnson woke up a little bit as well, 4 for 5 on Saturday, hit a homerun yesterday, 2 RBIs,” said Pawlowski.
But Ben Zobrist was the difference maker in the series, as the slumping utility fielder came alive in Miami. “He went 2 for 4 Friday, 3 for 3 with two homeruns, it was a big day for him on Saturday, and then yesterday 2 for 4 and scored a run as well,” Pawlowski said, “Zobrist could control things within the line-up. He can move runners ahead with contact, he can get on base, he can score runs, and he can hit for some power… Ben Zobrist is a key part of this line up, and they need him to succeed so they can score runs.”
The New York Yankees also swept the Mets during the famed subway series. The Yankees easily took games one and two of the series, and relied on the power bat of Russell Martin to send them to victory in a walk off win Sunday evening.
The Orioles won their series with the defending NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies, although they only managed to snag two out of three wins.
“I think you start to see why the AL East is held in such a higher regard than the NL East,” said the Commish about the weekend’s results, “The NL East is as tight together as the AL East has been. But when you look at the NL East I think that the Nationals will be there till the end. The Phillies, if they can get some of their injured guys back, but are the Marlins going to be able to battle and stay in that running in the NL East to the very end? Can the Mets do it? I don’t think the Mets can do it either.”
Currently, eight games separate first place and last place in the NL East. Six games separate the top from the bottom in the NL East. The unique situation in the AL though, is that only one game separates first from third place.