Around the A.L. East - Blue Jays increase their lead, only Orioles have losing record on the week

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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

W-L 2014 May 23-29 GB
Blue Jays 32-23
6-1
-
Yankees 28-24
4-2
2.5
Orioles 26-26
3-4
4.5
Red Sox 24-29
4-3
7
Rays 23-31
3-3
8.5


1. Toronto Blue Jays

SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter
2014 record: 32-23
2014 RS/RA: 274/244 (+30)
May 23-29 RS/RA: (39/26) (+13)

Week in Review

The Blue Jays only seem to be getting better, a fact that is not very encouraging for the Orioles. Before the Royals took them down last night, the Jays were on a nine-game win streak. During that streak they swept division rivals Boston and Tampa Bay, but most surprisingly also swept the Oakland A's. The A's are one of the best teams in baseball and had gone 10-2 over their previous 12 games. The Blue Jays didn't care. Starting pitchers Liam Hendriks, R.A. Dickey, and J.A. Happ combined to give up just two runs over 21 innings, and the bullpen allowed two runs in six innings pitched. That will usually get the job done.

After three low scoring games against the A's pitching staff, the Jays broke out the bats in their sweep of the Rays. 22 runs in three games, to be precise. The bats made up for a poor starting performance from Drew Hutchison (5 IP, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 HR) and overshadowed another good game from Mark Buehrle (6 2/3 IP, 3 ER).

The Jays finished their week with an extra-innings loss to the Royals to kick off a four-game series for this weekend. Pretty much every bat in the lineup has been hot over the last seven, especially Edwin Encarnacion (9-for-26 with 5 HR), Jose Reyes (10-for-28, 3 BB, 5 SB/0 CS), and a special shoutout to former Oriole little Steve Tolleson, who had just 10 at bats over the last week but got four hits, including two home runs.

Upcoming Week

After finishing up their four-game series with the Royals over the weekend, the Blue Jays have an off day and then play three games on the road against the Tigers.

Injuries and News

Not many injuries to speak of for the Jays. Relief pitcher Sergio Santos (right forearm tenderness) suffered a setback in his rehab and was shut down on 5/28. There's no timetable for his return. CF Colby Rasmus (right hamstring tightness) is still on track to return to the team in early June.

RF Jose Bautista, who is having another good season, is the second-highest vote getter in the current All Star voting (behind Mike Trout). Edwin Encarnacion, who is having a fantastic year, isn't even in the top five for first basemen.

2. New York Yankees

SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley
2014 record: 28-24
2014 RS/RA: 224/231 (-7)
May 23-29 RS/RA:29/24 (+5)

Week in Review

The Yankees went 4-2 over the past seven days, winning two of three over the weekend against the White Sox (after dropping game one of the series on Thursday), then also took the series against the Cardinals Monday-Wednesday. They battled the White Sox hard on Friday and Saturday, losing the first game on a walk-off home run from Adam Dunn and winning the second in extra innings. In the series finale on Sunday they gave Masahiro Tanaka seven runs of support, way more than he needed. In their two wins against the Cardinals they slugged their way to victory, scoring 13 runs in the two games. In their lone loss in St. Louis they were shut out by Lance Lynn.

The Yankees starting pitching didn't have any dominating performances, with Tanaka's one-run, 6 2/3 inning effort coming closest. But they also didn't have any meltdowns, giving the Yankees hitters a chance to get the job done.

The hottest Yankee hitters of their last two series were Jacoby Ellsbury (7-for-24, 3 BB, HR), Derek Jeter (7-for-22, 2 BB, 3B), and Brian Roberts (7-for-19, BB, 2 2B, HR). Not so hot were Brett Gardner (4-for-26, 2 BB), Brian McCann (5-for-21, HR, 2 BB) and Yangervis Solarte (2-for-21, BB).

Upcoming Week

The Yankees have a busy week ahead of them, but they're at home the entire time. Three games against the Twins, then a make up game against the Mariners, and then three games against the Athletics.

Injuries and News

Both CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) are trying to work their way back to the rotation, but neither will be back anytime soon. If all goes well, maybe July. Carlos Beltran (bone spur in elbow) similarly has no predicted return date. 1B Mark Teixeira is day-to-day with inflammation in his right wrist.

Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury are both in line to start the All Star Game based on the most recent update, with Carlos Beltran fourth in outfield voting. Jeter is understandable as he's being given the Ripken Retirement Tour treatment, but as one wise Camden Chat commenter said, the Yankee fans aren't stuffing the ballot box correctly. Brett Gardner has been much better than both Ellsbury and Beltran.

3. Baltimore Orioles

2014 record: 26-26
2014 RS/RA: 220/233 (-13)
May 23-29 RS/RA: 29/39 (-10)

Week in Review

The Orioles put together another frustrating week, going 3-4 against the Indians, Brewers, and Astros. While there are flaws in all parts of the Orioles games right now, the main culprit is the starting pitching. The offense is streaky, but capable of putting up big runs on any given day. The bullpen has let the team down a few times, but 1) to be successful they would have to be almost perfect given the starting pitching, and 2) actually have pretty good stats over the last week if you don't include T.J. McFarland. But the starting rotation? Putrid.

Over the last seven games, the O's starting pitchers gave up 27 earned runs in 38 2/3 innings. That's an ERA of 6.28. Only twice did a starting pitcher give up less than four runs (Miguel Gonzalez gave up 2 runs in 6 innings and Ubaldo Jimemenz gave up 1 run in 6). They averaged about 5 1/2 innings per start.

Until the starting pitching improves, it's not worth it to talk about anything else because it's what is keeping the Orioles from winning most days. I take it back, there is one thing worth mentioning: Nelson Cruz. Cruz leads the majors in HR, RBI, and total bases, and the American League in SLG, OPS, and OPS+. Over the last seven days he has gone 12-for-25 with 4 2B, 5 HR, and 4 BB.

Upcoming Week

It's all Texas for the next week. Three more games in Houston, then an off day Monday, then three games in Arlington against the Rangers.

Injuries and News

Tommy Hunter (groin strain) is eligible to return from the disabled list next week, but no word on if that will happen. Matt Wieters, who hasn't done any baseball activities since going on the DL almost three weeks ago, will play catch today to see how his sore elbow responds. A decision will be made by July 1st if he will have season-ending Tommy John surgery (if they wait longer than that, he might not be ready for the start of the 2015 season). Wieters leads AL catchers in All Star voting despite his injury.

Johan Santana can opt out of his contract with the Orioles today, but the Orioles hope he'll stick around to make some rehab starts with a target promotion date of June 18th.

4. Boston Red Sox

SBN Blog: Over the Monster
2014 record: 24-29
2014 RS/RA: 217-234 (-17)
May 23-29 RS/RA: 32/27 (+5)

Week in Review

The Red Sox kicked off last weekend by getting swept by the Rays to run their losing streak to 10 games. But then they found the cure to their woes: the National League. The four-game, two-city series with the Braves worked out in their favor as they took all four games.

John Lackey was great in the first game against the Rays, but the offense couldn't solve Chris Archer so it came down to a walk-off 1-0 victory for the Rays. After that the Red Sox pitching again was the culprit for their woes. Jake Peavy gave up five runs in what ended up being a 15-inning Rays win, and then Brandon Workman had a passable, but not great, start of five innings and three runs. A bullpen meltdown from Craig Breslow buried them.

Things turned around in Atlanta, though. In game one, Clay Buchholz did what he's done all year, which is stink. The offense took him off the hook though, scoring five runs in the fifth inning to tie the game. They went on win 8-6 (Note: they scored five runs in one inning to tie the game one day after getting mad at the Rays for stealing third base with a five-run lead) In games two and three against the Braves Jon Lester had a solid game followed by another gem from Lackey. They came close to losing the final game, but scored two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth on a walk off error to finish the sweep.

Upcoming Week

The Red Sox short home stand finishes this weekend with three games against the Rays, then on to Cleveland for three starting Monday.

Injuries and News

The 10-game losing streak took its toll on the Red Sox. In the last week they lost Shane Victorino (strained hamstring), Mike Napoli (left ring finger strain), and Clay Buchholz (hyperextended left knee) to the disabled list. In the case of Buchholz, who has been awful, that could be a blessing. They join Felix Doubront (left shoulder strain) and Will Middlebrooks (broken finger), neither of whom have a return timetable.

RHP Alex Wilson, OF Daniel Nava, and C Ryan Lavarnway were called up to replace the three newest additions to the DL. RHP Brandon Workman has taken Doubront's place in the rotation.

David Ortiz is the leading DH in All Star voting, even though Nelson Cruz has been better.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

SBN Blog: DRays Bay
2014 record: 23-31
2014 RS/RA: 214/241 (-27)
May 23-29 RS/RA: 28/32 (-4)

Week in Review

The Rays kicked off last weekend with a sweep of the Red Sox, but then gave it all back by getting swept by the Blue Jays. In the series with Boston, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi were both quite good. Archer didn't give up a run and struck out 11 in six innings, but continued to struggle with his control, issuing four walks. Odorizzi conquered his demons with just one walk, just the second time this season he hasn't issued multiple free passes. David Price gave up five runs in the first inning on May 24th, but followed with seven more strong innings in a game the Rays won in 15 innings.

The pitching didn't fare as well against the Blue Jays, with both Erik Bedard (4 IP, 8 R, 2 HR) and Alex Cobb (5 IP, 6 R, 2 HR) getting manhandled. Archer gave the Rays their best shot in the final game with a 6 inning, 2 run effort, but the Rays couldn't solve Liam Hendriks and the Blue Jays walked off on an error by Rays pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo.

One thing the Rays did well over the last seven days is score runs. In four of their six games they scored at least 5 runs. They didn't have a number of guys go on a huge tear, though Evan Longoria did go 10-for-29 on the week. Sean Rodriguez had just three hits in 13 plate appearances, but those three were a double, a triple, and a home run as he knocked in six runs. His home run was a three-run shot as a pinch hitter.

Upcoming Week

A three-game series with the Red Sox in Boston begins tonight, then the Rays head back to Florida for a four-game, two-city series with the Miami Marlins.

Injuries and News

Catcher Ryan Hanigan (strained hamstring) and left fielder Brandon Guyer (broken thumb) were placed on the disabled list this week. Roman Ali Solis takes Hannigan's place on the roster, Kevin Kaiemaier replaces Guyer. The Rays other catcher, Jose Molina, came out of the game on Wednesday after taking a foul ball to the mask, but it doesn't appear he'll miss much time.

Ben Zobrist (dislocated thumb) has been on a rehab assignment and it's anticipated he'll be called up before tonight's game.

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