The Red Sox (65-52) head to Baltimore tonight to face the Orioles (66-51) with first place in the American League East on the line (Toronto is also tied for first at 67-52).
Statistically speaking, it shouldn't be this way. Boston is a better team than Baltimore--a lot better, in fact. For the season, the Sox have outscored their opponents by 104 runs (tied with Cleveland for first in the American League), an average of 0.89 per game. By comparison, the O's have only plated 38 more runs than their opposition (sixth in the AL) an average of 0.32 per game. The Red Sox's average margin of victory is nearly triple what Baltimore's is, and more than half a run per game higher. Considering AL teams are averaging 4.5 total runs per game this season, a half-run difference in margin of victory is an enormous amount.
Here's a quick NBA comparison: The Celtics went 48-34 last year while outscoring their opponents by 3.2 points per game. The NBA-champion Cavaliers (57-25) won by 6.0 PPG. In theory, the gap between the Red Sox and Orioles is greater than the one between the Cavs and Celtics.
Baltimore should fade in the AL East race, with Boston battling the Blue Jays (who are +87 in total runs, 0.73 per game) for the division title.