J.D. Martinez Boston Red Sox
J.D. Martinez #28 high fives Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox after hitting a three-run home run in the eighth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park on July 9, 2018 in Boston. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

If the New York Yankees (59-31) aren’t careful, the race for the AL East crown could be much less exciting than what the baseball world has been anticipating. They’ve fallen 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox (64-29) in the division with the All-Star break a few days away.

It was only 10 days ago that the Yankees took possession of first place with an 11-1 victory over the Red Sox in the Bronx. All Boston has done since then is go undefeated, putting them atop the 2018 MLB standings.

Boston and New York have battled for the best record in baseball for much of the year. The Houston Astros (62-32) have now surpassed the Yankees for the second-best record.

New York has lost two out of three games to the Baltimore Orioles, who are an astounding 37.5 games out of first place in mid-July. The team has been so bad that it appears to be a foregone conclusion that they’ll be trading All-Star shortstop Manny Machado.

If the Yankees are forced to play in the single elimination AL Wild-Card Game, their struggles against the division’s worst teams could ultimately be to blame. New York is 4-5 against Baltimore, who has a .253 winning percentage against the rest of the league. The Yankees were also swept by the Tampa Bay Rays a few weeks ago. Tampa Bay has 13 more losses than New York.

After concluding their series with the Orioles Wednesday, the Yankees play what could be a key four-game series on the road with the first-place Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox head into the All-Star break with five games against the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays, both of whom have losing records.

Could Boston have a five or six-game lead in the AL East by this time next week?

Considering the way the first three months of the season have unfolded, the Yankees are likely to climb back into first place at some point. Maintaining their current winning percentage would give the Red Sox 111 regular-season wins, a pace that will be difficult to keep up.

Going on the road to Cleveland might not necessarily be a bad thing for New York. They seem to play their best against the league’s top competition. The Yankees swept the Indians in a three-game series at home two months ago. New York won six out of seven games on the road against the Astros and Los Angeles Angels (47-45) in the two series prior to facing the Indians.

With the way the Red Sox are currently playing, the Yankees can hardly afford to lose any games. During a season in which they’ve got championship expectations, New York wants to avoid having to win the AL Wild-Card Game at all costs.