In April, the Chicago White Sox were the toast of the American League following a spring training full of turmoil. After riding high with a 17-8 mark in April to top the AL Central, the Chisox were shot down in May with a record of 11-17 losing 7 of 8 and 15 of their last 20 games.
The White Sox are now two games back of the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals who finished May winning their final five games and 8 of their last 10 contests. Many of those contests came against the White Sox, specifically the White Sox bullpen which blew three consecutive late inning leads over Memorial Day Weekend. Perhaps Robin Ventura should have Chris Sale pitch all 9 innings of his starts.
Chicago is also looking the Cleveland Indians over their shoulder. Their 18-12 mark in May puts the Tribe 2.5 games back of the Royals. The White Sox weren’t the only team in the AL Central to finish the month 11-17. The Tigers began the month losing 11 of their first 13 games bringing manager Brad Ausmus’ job security into question. The Tigers would then win 9 of their next 11 before losing their final four games of May. If the Tigers’ turmoil continues, Ausmus’ reprieve might prove to be short-lived.
But it could be worse. After going 7-17 in April, the Minnesota Twins went 8-19 in May. They are in danger of reaching 1962 New York Mets territory.
The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox were the top two teams in the AL East in April and it remains the case in May. After holding a half game lead over the Bosox in April, the O’s are now three games back of Boston whose 18-10 mark in May was the best in the AL. After struggling in April, both the Toronto Blue Jays (17-12) and New York Yankees (16-13) had winning months in May although the Bronx Bombers remain under .500. The Tampa Bay Rays, however, have struggled losing 8 of their final 10 games of the month despite leading the AL in home runs. The Rays pitching, long a strength, is nowhere to be found.
The top two teams in the AL West are also unchanged with the Texas Rangers holding a half game lead over the Seattle Mariners with the Los Angeles Angels 7 games back and the Houston Astros and Oakland A’s both 7.5 games back. Although the Astros and A’s have identical 24-29 records their months couldn’t have been different. After an awful 7-17 April, the Astros were a strong 17-12 in May. By contrast, the A’s who were only 1.5 games back of the Rangers at the end of April went 11-17 in May although they did win their final four games. Despite the near decimation of the Angels’ starting rotation, they are managing to tread water. But with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the Angels should do more than tread water.
The Washington Nationals retain a two game lead over the New York Mets in the NL East with the Miami Marlins and Philadephia Phillies 4.5 & 5.5 games back of the Nats, respectively. After a respectable 14-10 mark in April, the Phillies fell to earth late in the month losing five in a row and 8 of their last 10 games to bring them to the .500 mark. Still, the Phillies would rather be at .500 than be the Atlanta Braves who are 16 games back of Washington. Like the Twins, the Braves are also 15-36 and in danger of being the modern day ’62 Mets.
The Chicago Cubs still have the best record in MLB with a 35-15 mark. They lead the Pittsburgh Pirates by 6.5 games. The Bucs seemed consigned to play the NL Wild Card game for a fourth consecutive year. The St. Louis Cardinals are hovering above .500 with a 16-14 mark in May. The Milwaukee Brewers also went 16-14 in May after going 8-15 in April. Still, the Brew Crew are 12.5 games back of the Cubs. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds 8-20 mark was the worst in MLB during the month of May featuring an 11-game losing streak. As long as Bryan Price is in the dugout, the Reds have a chance to eclipse both the Braves and the Twins as the worst team in MLB and even worse than the ’62 Mets.
The San Francisco Giants, on the other hand, had a fabulous May with a 21-8 mark, the best in MLB. They have a 4.5 game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Dodgers did finish the month winning 7 of their last 10 games. After finishing April in a three place tie with the Giants and Dodgers, the Rockies have fallen to 7.5 games off the pace with a 13-15 showing in May. The Rockies didn’t play badly, but the Giants and Dodgers played so much better. The D’Backs 11-17 May took the snakes from half a game out of first in April to 10 games back at the end of May. Arizona is arguably the most disappointing team in the National League. After going 11-18 in May, the San Diego Padres find themselves 12.5 games back of the Giants. How much longer will it be before the Padres unload the likes of Matt Kemp, James Shields and Derek Norris?
Hard to believe a third of the 2016 season is nearly over.
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