The New York Yankees are in town for a three-game set this week and, like other AL East rivals, the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, they're viciously fighting for a playoff spot. But while each searches to secure their berth in the playoff bracket, the Red Sox are looking to do a little party crashing.
The Yankees enter Fenway Park with a 79-61 record and just a one-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles and two games on the Tampa Bay Rays for the division lead. As Boston's biggest rival, it is always a pleasure to see the Yanks eliminated from the playoff picture, and it might be even more so in a season where the Red Sox finish so far out.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have been a surprise contender all season, behind a tremendous pitching staff and the consistent hitting of Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Manager Buck Showalter has guided them to a 78-62 record, and if the winning continues they will have their best record since last making the playoffs in 1997. But having played the spoiler to Boston's epic September collapse a season ago, Red Sox Nation likely wouldn't mind seeing Baltimore feel that same disappointment this season.
The O's are in Tampa this week, hoping to extend their Wild Card lead to more than a single game over the Rays. With youngsters Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson slated to take the hill in the crucial three-game set, the Rays could find themselves in hot water if they don't deliver.
Tampa is currently heading strong into the postseason stretch, going 6-2 since Sept. 1, and hoping to recreate some of the magic that saw them sneak off with a playoff berth in Game 162 last season. That berth, of course, came at the demise of the Red Sox and in historic fashion. So maybe Boston is hoping to dash some dreams of their own this time around.
With three of the Red Sox biggest rivals all vying for playoff spots this September, who would it be most enjoyable to see the Sox play spoiler against?