Around the A.L. East - Orioles move into first place tie with Blue Jays

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles outplayed the Blue Jays and Yankees this week to put themselves in a tie for first, and the Rays went 6-2 as they try to climb out of the cellar.

Week in Review

This past week saw a lot of A.L. East on A.L. East action, as the only team not to play one of their division rivals was the Toronto Blue Jays. Last weekend, the three teams fighting for first place - Orioles, Yankees, and Blue Jays, were all playing teams that they had high hopes of beating. The Orioles took on the last place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees played the 4th place Boston Red Sox, and the Blue Jays hosted the Chicago White Sox, who have been in a race to the bottom of the A.L. Central with the Twins all year.

So naturally, all three teams hoping to play well enough over the weekend to make headway in the division race lost their series to their opponent. The Orioles lost three out of four to the Rays, the Jays lost three out of four to the White Sox, and the Yankees lost two out of three to the Red Sox. D'oh.

As the weekend ended, the Orioles welcomed the Rangers to town, the Blue Jays had an off day on Monday followed by a two-game series with the Brewers, and the Yankees hosted the surging Rays for a three-game set. The Orioles were able to gain a half-game over the Blue Jays thanks to the Jays' off day, but the Yankees were swept by the streaking Rays. They lost three games in the standings to the Orioles and 2.5 to the Jays, and fell below .500.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox spent the first part of the week getting swept by the Cubs at home. With the Rays winning six out of seven against the Orioles and Yankees, the Red Sox 2-4 record for the week dropped them to just a game ahead of Tampa Bay with a record of 38-47.

The Red Sox spent Thursday resting comfortably at home, but the other four teams were still playing. The Orioles were finishing up their four-game series with the Rangers while the Yankees and Rays traveled to the midwest to play the Twins and Tigers, respectively. And the Jays had to go all the way to the west coast without an off day to start a series with the Athletics. The Yankees, behind Masahiro Tanaka, stopped their losing streak at five, while the Rays lost to the Tigers to end their five-game winning streak. The O's completed the four-game sweep of the Rangers, which combined with the Jays loss to the A's moved them into a tie for first place.

Upcoming Schedule: 4-11 July


Friday-Sunday Monday-Thursday
Blue Jays 3 @ OAK 3 @ LAA
Orioles 3 @ BOS 2 @ WAS, 2 vs WAS
Yankees 3 @ MIN 4 @ CLE
Red Sox 3 vs BAL 4 vs CWS
Rays 3 @ DET 3 vs KCR

News and Injuries

Blue Jays

Relief pitcher Brett Cecil has been on the disabled list with a groin strain, but he will rejoin the team before their game today in Oakland. No official word yet on who will be demoted, but Bluebird Banter speculates that it will be LHP Rob Rasmussen. Meanwhile, Brett Lawrie remains on the DL with a broken finger and CF Colby Rasmus is day-to-day with a sore wrist.

Rumor has it that the Blue Jays might be interested in acquiring Jeff Francoeur, which seems funny to me. They also ponied up $1.6 million to sign international prospect Juan Meza from Venezuela, who was ranked the 11th best international prospect by MLB.com.

Orioles

Starting pitcher Bud Norris (groin strain) could return from the disabled list next week for the series against the Nationals, but it will depend on how he responds when pitching in either a simulated or minor league game. Manny Machado began serving his five-game suspension on Monday and will be eligible to return on Saturday against the Red Sox.

The Orioles haven't announced who will start on Sunday, but it's believed it will be Kevin Gausman. We'll see if Gausman can pitch well after again being jerked around between starts and "in-game side sessions" in the minors.

Yankees

Mark Teixeira has had a gimpy knee and missed Wednesday's game after getting it drained, but he was back in the lineup last night. CC Sabathia (right knee injury) had started his minor-league rehab and looked like he might be nearing a return, but had a swollen knee yesterday and has been shut down indefinitely.

The Yankees have been very active in the international market, signing what feels like all of the international free agents. There will probably be more to come, and you can check out who they have gotten so far at this page on Pinstripe Alley.

Red Sox

Mike Carp (left foot fracture), Shane Victorino (right hamstring strain), and Will Middlebrooks (fractured index finger) all remain on the DL. Carp and Middlebrooks are currently on rehab assignments and could return within the next few weeks. Victorino could start his rehab assignment next week.

The Red Sox have also jumped into the international signing pool, signing two pitchers who ranked in the top ten of MLB.com's international free agent rankings. Christopher Acosta from Dominican Republic was signed for $1.5M and Anderson Espinoza from Venezuela was given $1.8M.

Rays

There are no updates on when Will Myers (stress fracture in wrist) and David DeJesus (broken hand) will be ready to return to the club. Yunel Escobar was just placed on the DL this week with a sore right shoulder, but is expected to return in a few weeks.

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