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Around the A.L. East - Division race tightens as Blue Jays slump

A look at the last seven days for the five teams of the American League East

Mike Carlson
W-L 2014 6/13-6/19 GB
Blue Jays 41-33 2-4 -
Yankees 38-33 4-2 1.5
Orioles 36-34 3-3 2.5
Red Sox 34-39 4-3 6.5
Rays 29-45 4-3 12

1. Toronto Blue Jays

SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter
2014 record: 41-33
2014 RS/RA: 342/311 (+31)
6/13-6/19 RS/RA: 19/21 (-2)

Week in Review

After splitting last weekend's four-game series with the Orioles, the Blue Jays traveled to New York where they were swept by the Yankees. In the series against the Orioles the Jays pitched well, but in their two losses the offense fell asleep (or, was shut down by Kevin Gausman and Bud Norris, if you prefer). Game one of their series with the Yankees was a low scoring affair, but the Blue Jays were shut down by Masahiro Tanaka. But in games two and three the Jays pitching couldn't keep it together. A loss on Wednesday was thanks to a bullpen meltdown, and on Thursday Drew Hutchison couldn't get out of the fifth inning as he gave up four runs in the 6-4 loss.

Since June 7th, the Blue Jays are just 3-9 and their lead in the A.L. East has gone from 6 games to just 1.5.

Upcoming Week

It's interleague time for the Blue Jays, who play a weekend series on the road against the Reds. Then they're back home on Monday for three games against the Yankees.

Injuries and News

The Jays got beat up in their series last weekend against the Orioles and they are still feeling the effects. Relief pitcher Brett Cecil suffered a left groin strain last Friday in Baltimore, then tried to come back too early and hurt it more in the series against the Yankees. He's been placed on the DL, replaced by RHP Steve Delabar. On Saturday against the O's, Adam Lind fouled a ball off his foot and had to be put into a walking boot. He's been day-to-day and hasn't played since. And R.A. Dickey also suffered a groin strain against the O's, but he's good to go tonight in Cincinnati. The Blue Jays could also be without 2B/3B Brett Lawrie for a few games, who was hit by a pitch in the left hand on Wednesday. X-rays were negative, but he wasn't in then lineup yesterday.

CF Colby Rasmus played on Wednesday for the first time since May 12th. He had been on the DL with a strained hamstring. Anthony Gose was optioned to AAA to make room for Rasmus on the roster.

2. New York Yankees

SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley
2014 record: 38-33
2014 RS/RA: 291/310 (-19)
6/13-6/19 RS/RA: 29/23 (+6)

Week in Review

The Yankees had a bi-coastal week, spending last weekend in Oakland where they lost two of three to the Athletics, then traveling home to play the Blue Jays, who they swept. In their one win against the A's, David Phelps pitched 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, which is pretty impressive against the A's. But their starting pitching after that was pretty bad. Hiroki Kuroda and Vidal Nuno combined to give up 12 runs in just 7 2/3 innings. Nuno was especially bad, lasting only three innings. Things got better for them against the Blue Jays, first with another good start by Tanaka, who struck out 10 and gave up one run in a close 3-1 win. Phelps and Chase Whitley also pitched well against the Jays, and had the benefit of 7 and 6 runs of support, respectively.

Upcoming Week

The Yankees and Orioles play a three-game series this weekend in New York, then the Yankees go to Toronto for another series with the Blue Jays.

Injuries and News

Nothing much new on the injury front for the Yankees, other than the return of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli. CC Sabathia has thrown a few bullpen sessions on his stem-cell injected bum knee, but won't return for at least six more weeks. And Michael Pineda (right shoulder muscle) hasn't yet begun throwing and won't be back until August at the earliest.

In All-Star news, Derek Jeter still holds the lead for shortstops. Alexei Ramirez is less than 250K votes behind him, so you can either let Jeter take the Cal Ripken treatment right to a starting spot, or you can go out and vote for Ramirez. Your choice.

3. Baltimore Orioles

2014 record: 37-34
2014 RS/RA: 296/298 (-2)
6/13-6/19 RS/RA:18/21 (-3)

Week in Review

The Orioles went 3-3 in the last seven days. After picking up a win in the first game of their series with Toronto, they lost two of three over the weekend for a split. They then took two of three from the Rays. The offense had some trouble, averaging just three runs per game and getting shut out once. But the starting pitching kept them in the games, even the ones they lost. They debuted their new six-man rotation and Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, and Kevin Gausman combined to give up only 13 runs in 37 1/3 innings, an ERA of 3.13. Only Gonzalez gave up more than three runs and pitched less than six innings. The bullpen wasn't as sharp as they gave up runs in five of the six games played.

Upcoming Week

Three games in New York starting tonight followed by a three-game series with the White Sox at Camden Yards beginning on Monday.

Injuries and News

Other than the inevitable Tommy John surgery for Matt Wieters, which took place on Tuesday, the O's are currently pretty light on injuries. Down on the farm, though, Nolan Reimold's rehab assignment went south as he has been sidelined with a groin injury. Oh, Nolan.

Both Nelson Cruz and Matt Wieters are still leading their positions in voting for the All Star Game. Adam Jones is currently fifth among outfielders, about 400K behind the third place spot currently held by Melky Cabrera.

4. Boston Red Sox

SBN Blog: Over the Monster
2014 record: 34-39
2014 RS/RA: 280/296 (-16)
6/13-6/19 RS/RA: 21/15 (+6)

Week in Review

The Red Sox scored 21 runs over the last seven days, but 10 of them came in one game, a win against Cleveland last Friday. Since then they haven't scored more than two runs in any game, which makes their 4-3 record pretty surprising. They have their pitching to thank for that. With the exception of last night's 4-2 loss to the Oakland A's, in which Jake Peavy gave up four runs (three earned), the Red Sox starting pitching was exceptional. Twice their starters didn't allow a run (Rubby De La Rosa - 0 runs, 7 innings, and John Lackey - 0 runs, 9 innings), and none allowed more than three. Altogether over the seven games the Red Sox starting staff pitched a total of 47 1/3 innings with just 10 earned runs allowed. That's an ERA of 1.90. The bullpen was also very good, giving up just two earned runs (four total) over the seven games. If the Red Sox hitters could have done anything over the last week the team could easily have won seven in a row. Instead they settle for 1-2 against the Indians (2-2 over the four-game series that started on Thursday), 3-0 against the Twins, and 0-1 so far against the A's.

Upcoming Week

The Red Sox are on the west coast for a seven-game road trip. They started a four-game series last night against the A's, then travel to Seattle for three games against the Mariners.

Injuries and News

The Red Sox are close to getting a lot of their guys back. Shane Victorino (right hamstring), Will Middlebrooks (fractured finger), and Clay Buchholz (hyperextended knee) are all on minor league rehab assignments. Victorino should be back next week, and the other two by the end of the month. Felix Doubront (left shoulder strain) is back and starting tonight in place of the suspended Brandon Workman. Mike Carp remains on the DL with a broken foot.

Workman started his suspension on Wednesday for throwing behind Evan Longoria's head on May 30th. He appealed but his suspension was not shortened. He will be eligible to pitch again on Tuesday.

In this week's edition of Reasons to Hate David Ortiz, the DH disagreed with the official scorer's error call on a ball he hit on Wednesday. Here is the play, you be the judge. After the inning Ortiz looked up into the press box and gave the official scorer a thumbs down, then after the game had this to say: "It's so hard here, man. I thought people were supposed to have your back at home and it never happens. It's always like that. I've been here for more than a decade and the scorekeepers here are always horrible. This is home, man." You stay classy, David Ortiz.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

SBN Blog: DRays Bay
2014 record: 29-45
2014 RS/RA: 270/318 (-48)
6/13-6/19 RS/RA: 28/24 (+4)

Week in Review

The Rays were 4-3 over the last week, thanks in great part to the Houston Astros. The Rays have actually been a worse team than the Astros this year, record-wise, but the Rays beat them three times out of four over the past seven days. It started them taking two of three on the road last weekend, then they picked up another win against the Astros at home last night in the start of a four-game series. Pitching was the key as in the three wins David Price, Alex Cobb, and Chris Archer combined to give up just four runs in 21 innings with an impressive 29 strikeouts. They didn't have as much luck against the Orioles, to whom they lost two of three. They did score five runs each in the first two games of the series, but only won one on account of poor pitching from Erik Bedard. And in the series finale they were shut out and took the loss despite another great game from Cobb.

Upcoming Week

The Rays started a four-game home series with the Astros in a battle of last place teams. On Monday Pittsburgh will arrive at the Trop for three games, before the Rays have an off game on Thursday.

Injuries and News

LHP Jeremy Hellickson looks to be one rehab start away from returning to the Rays. He has been recovering from elbow surgery. The Rays already anemic offense suffered a blow when they had to place David DeJesus on the DL with a broken left ring finger. He suffered the break on a check swing in Wednesday's game against the Orioles. OF Brandon Guyer, who had been rehabbing a broken thumb, was activated in DeJesus' place.