Around the A.L. East - Blue Jays take over first place, Red Sox lose seven in a row

Justin K. Aller

A look at the five teams in the A.L. East and how they fared over the last seven days.

W-L 2014 May 16-22 GB
Blue Jays 26-22 5-1 -
Yankees 24-22 3-3 1
Orioles 23-22 2-4 1.5
Red Sox 20-26 0-6 5
Rays 20-28 2-4 6


1. Toronto Blue Jays

SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter
2014 record: 26-22
2014 RS/RA: 245/218 (+27)
May 16-22 RS/RA: 28/18 (+10)

Week in Review

Don't look now, but the Blue Jays are streaking to the top of the division. They are 8-2 over their last ten and went 5-1 this week to take first place in the A.L. East. They've been hitting all season, but now that the pitching has improved along with the hits, this team has gotten very dangerous. Drew Hutchison and Mark Buehrle each had two fine starts to help their cause.

Pitching was the name of the game in their weekend series against the Rangers. The Blue Jays held Texas to just four runs in three games. It started with a complete-game shutout by Hutchison. Hutchison gave up just three singles and a walk in the win. In the second game of the series Mark Buehrle weaved his soft-tossing magic with two runs allowed in 6 2/3 and the Jays came back with runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings to win. They lost the last game of the series when the bullpen coughed up two runs after a mediocre start from R.A. Dickey.

The bats came out, though, as the Jays swept the Red Sox Tuesday-Thursday. They scored 20 runs in the series thanks in part to eight home runs. Four of those were from Edwin Encarnacion, who went 6-for-15 in the series with eight RBI. The Jays lead the league in home runs, with 67. The next closest team has 52. The Jays got good pitching in the series other than one clunker by JA Happ, but they didn't even really need it.

Upcoming Week

The Jays start a ten-game home stand tonight with three-games series against the Athletics and Rays, then a four-game series against the Royals.

Injuries and News

CF Colby Rasmus was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to the May 13th with a bum hamstring. He's still a few weeks away from returning, probably. RHP Sergio Santos is also on the DL with right forearm tenderness. He could rejoin the Jays' bullpen in early June.

RHP Liam Hendricks will be called up to start on Friday against the A's. He'll be the fifth starter in the rotation, taking the place of Dustin McGowan.

2. New York Yankees

SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley
2014 record: 24-22
2014 RS/RA: 195/207 (-12)
May 16-22 RS/RA: 21/20 (+1)

Week in Review

The Yankees spent most of the past week playing interleague baseball, winning two of three from the Pirates and splitting a two-game series with the Cubs. They started a four-game series with the White Sox last night and lost 3-2 to give them a 3-3 record on the week.

The Yankees gave a beat down to Edinson Volquez of the Pirates last Saturday, but then again who doesn't? They hit four home runs off of him in 6 1/3 innings, good for five runs. They scored two more off of the bullpen in support of David Phelps. Phelps joined the Yankees rotation at the beginning of May when their other starters began dropping like flies. He's had his ups and downs, but last Saturday was an up as he pitched five scoreless innings. The Yankees followed their win by splitting a doubleheader with the Pirates on Sunday. Huroki Kuroda barely outpitched Charlie Morton in a 4-3 win in game one, then Gerrit Cole held them to three runs in game two as they lost 5-3.

Runs were hard to come by for the Yankees in the Cubs series. They could only get one run off of Jason Hammel and the Cubs bullpen in the first game, and Masahiro Tanaka gave up four runs on eight hits in the loss.

Last night in Chicago, the Yankees were the lucky team to get to face Chris Sale in his first game back from the disabled list. Sale started the game by striking out the side in the first inning, then proceeded to retire the first 17 batters he faced. All told the Yankees struck out 10 times in six innings against Sale. It wasted a good game by Phelps, who struck out eight in seven innings with just two runs allowed. The Yankees scored two in the ninth but it was too little too late.

Upcoming Week

The Yankees will finish their series with the White Sox  in Chicago with three over the weekend, then head to St. Louis to play a three-game series with the Cardinals.

Injuries and News

After losing Ivan Nova for the season in April, the Yankees have now said goodbye to two more members of their starting rotation. Michael Pineda is out with until at least June with a strained shoulder muscle, and CC Sabathia will be on the DL until at least July with his degenerative knee. OF Carlos Beltran is also on the DL with a bone spur in his elbow as of May 15th and still doesn't know if he'll need surgery.

When the Cubs beat the Yankees on Wednesday they hung a loss on Masahiro Tanaka. It is Tanaka's first loss in 42 straight games. This is good news because having to hear about that every week was getting tiresome.

3. Baltimore Orioles

2014 record: 23-22
2014 RS/RA: 191/194 (-3)
May 16-22 RS/RA: 34/28 (+6)

Week in Review

The Orioles had a tough week. The offense finally heated up, but unfortunately their pitching, defense, and common sense has gone on vacation. The result was a 3-4 record for the week and a drop in the standings from first to third place.

After taking the first game of a four-game series against the Royals last Thursday and then shutting them out on Friday behind a complete game shutout from Chris Tillman, they lost 1-0 on Saturday and were outslugged on Sunday to split the series. They took the first game against the Pirates on Tuesday behind three home runs from Chris Davis, but then engaged in back-to-back slugfests (or errorfests, whatever) with the Pirates and then the Indians. They couldn't overcome their blunders to win either game. In their last four games the Orioles have scored 30 runs, but only have one win to show for it.

Most disappointing was Tillman's second performance in which he gave up 8 runs in just one inning pitched (he went into the second inning but didn't record an out). All that was needed to beat the Pirates behind Wandy Rodriguez was to pitch halfway competently. It didn't happen.

Upcoming Week

The Orioles finish their four-game home series against the Indians with three games Friday-Sunday, then hit the road for interleague play. First up are the Brewers, then they start a four-game series against the Astros on Thursday.

Injuries and News

Tommy Hunter was just placed on the 15-day DL with a groin strain and replaced with Preston Guilmet who had been the closer for AAA Norfolk. Matt Wieters is still not throwing with pain in his forearm/elbow, and it is uncertain when he'll return.

Manny Machado was removed from the game in the 12th inning last night with right groin stiffness.

Chris Davis will be leaving the team on Sunday to be with his wife for the birth of their child. He will of course leave sooner than that if needed, but they're planning on Sunday.

4. Boston Red Sox

SBN Blog: Over the Monster
2014 record: 20-26
2014 RS/RA: 185/207 (-22)
May 16-22 RS/RA: 13/33 (-20)

Week in Review

The Red Sox are having some troubles with their starting pitching, to put it lightly. They have lost seven games in a row and over the last week (six games) their starting pitchers have given up 27 earned runs in just 32 1/3 innings. That's good for an ERA of about 7.5 with the starters averaging less than 5 1/2 innings per start. And it hasn't just been this week for the rotation. Jon Lester has been having a very good year so far and John Lackey hasn't been bad. But the combination of Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz has been pretty bad.

That 7+ ERA was a main culprit for why they went 0-6 over the last seven days, but their offense was also quiet vs. Detroit last weekend. They scored just four runs in three games against the Tigers, getting shut down by Scherzer, Porcello and Sanchez. The bats woke up a little when the Blue Jays came to town and they scored 10 (4, 4, 2) runs in the three game series, but the starting pitching was so bad that it didn't matter.

A bright spot for the Red Sox this weekend (and over most of the season) has been their bullpen. Though they were called on to pitch 22 2/3 innings (that's just about 3.75 innings per game), they gave up only four runs, an ERA of 1.58. Sadly for the Red Sox (but nobody else, really) it was too little too late.

Upcoming Week

The Red Sox go on the road beginning tonight for a three-game series against the last place Rays, then they have four straight games against the first place Braves with two on the road followed by two at home.

Injuries and News

After being pulled from Tuesday's game with shoulder fatigue (and giving up five runs in four innings), LHP Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain that he apparently suffered by bumping into a car door. According to NESN.com, both Brandon Workman and Allen Webster are candidates to replace him.

The Red Sox signed SS Stephen Drew to a one-year, $10 million contract. When Drew is ready the Red Sox will move Xander Bogaerts over to third base. 3B Will Middlebrooks is currently on the disabled list with a broken finger, and he's been having an awful season so far.

1B Mike Napoli missed the last two games with a flu-like illness and is currently day-to-day. He could be back tonight.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

SBN Blog: DRays Bay
2014 record: 20-28
2014 RS/RA: 186/205 (-19)
May 16-22 RS/RA: 12/20 (-8)

Week in Review

The Rays went 2-4 over the last seven days. They kicked off last weekend with a four-game series on the road against the Angels (the series began on Thursday, May 15th) where they lost three of four, then avoided being swept by the A's at home with a walk-off three-run homer by Sean Rodriguez yesterday. (That was after Grant Balfour blew the save)

Much like the Red Sox, the Rays have had trouble with their starting pitching. That's not something you normally say about the Rays, but it's true. They have just two starters with an ERA under 4.28 and they are Alex Cobb, who just made his triumphant return to the starting rotation yesterday, and...Erik Bedard! Mon Dieu.

In last Friday's game against the Angels, the adorably stirrup-socked Chris Archer gave up just two hits didn't allow a run, but he continues to struggle with walks as five free passes limited him to just five innings pitched. And speaking of walks, Jake Odorizzi pitched Tuesday against the A's and while it's hard to label a three-run start a total disaster, he had to leave after 4 2/3 IP and 113 pitches because of the five walks he handed out.

It's not even worth talking about Cesar Ramos, who gave up four runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Angels, because he's gone from the rotation for now. But team ace David Price continued his mediocre 2014 season. He pitched 6 2/3 inning but was knocked around for six runs.

Luckily for the Rays, they got back Alex Cobb from the disabled list for last night's game against the A's, and he didn't disappoint. He pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings with six strikeouts and two walks. But it still took eleven innings for them to win since the offense was only able to muster one runs in the first 10.

As is so often the case with the Rays, they had big trouble scoring runs this week. Their runs scored by game over the last week look like this: 3, 0, 2, 0, 2, 5. That'll happen when your best hitter is David DeJesus. (I know, Evan Longoria. But he's been pretty underwhelming so far this year and went just 3-for-25 over the last week).

Upcoming Week

It's all A.L. East for the Rays this week. The Red Sox come to town for three games starting tonight and then the Rays head on the road for three games against the Blue Jays.

Injuries and News

Ben Zobrist has been on the 15-day DL since May 15th with a dislocated thumb. The offense sure misses him. He's the only player that could return relatively soon, though RHP Jeremy Hellickson could return in a little over a month after elbow surgery in 2015.

OF Kevin Kiermaier was optioned to AAA to make room for Alex Cobb on the roster. If you don't know who he is, don't worry. He had only 12 PA with the Rays.

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