ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time this season, all five teams in the American League East entered play Monday night at least two games above .500.
Since the current divisional format began in 1994, only one other time has the AL East had all five teams two games above .500 at this point of the season, and that occurred last season when all five were as late as July 4.
Only one other time since 1994 has any division had all of its teams two games over .500 this deep in the season. In 2005, all five National League East teams were two games over .500 on Sept. 30.
"I really think that it's like an ointment -- [playing in the AL East] pulls the best out of you [and] the rest of the teams in this division, and you've got to be ready every night," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You've got to be on your best baseball behavior. You've got to really compete to survive. So I think it brings out the best in all of us, whether it's managers, coaches or players. The competition, the venues, all of that really is fascinating, and the only place to play."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.