Coming off the AL East title last season, the Red Sox have been in control of the division for most of the summer. Boston has led the division every day since the start of August but hasn't been able to shake the Yankees, who are having a surprising season after dealing away a trio of stars last year and seeming to embark on a rebuilding campaign. Unfortunately for New York, it will not get another chance to play the Red Sox head-to-head this season, depriving the Yankees of a chance to make up ground without getting any help (and depriving baseball fans of some compelling drama.) The Blue Jays have fallen out of playoff contention while the division title chances of the Orioles and Rays are virtually non-existent.
Baltimore dominated the six-team AL East when division play was formed in 1969, winning the first three titles and five of the first six. The Yankees replicated that feat between 1976 and '81, including the latter year in which they won one of the two postseason berths given to each division because of the player's strike and then beat the Brewers—then an AL East rival—in the first-ever Division Series.
The Red Sox (three titles) and Blue Jays (five) combined for eight titles in the last nine years of the pre-wild-card format (the Tigers, who would join the Indians and Brewers in to the AL Central when that division was created in 1994, won the other, in 1987) and Boston finished first again in 1995, the year the Division Series started again. Starting the next year, the Yankees began their most recent dynasty. From 1996 to 2012, New York finished first 13 times in 17 years, including nine straight from 1998 to 2006.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who entered the majors as an expansion team in 1998, shocked baseball by going from last place in the AL East in each of its first 10 seasons to first place in 2008, then proved it was no fluke by winning the division again two years later.