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Around the AL East, Week 2: The Orioles remain on top

The Orioles finally lost a few games, including a decidedly un-fun one on Saturday night, which hasn't stopped them from staying atop the AL East another week.

There aren't many bad days that end up with the Orioles in first place at the end of the day. Despite losing their undefeated record with a 2-3 stretch of games, the O's are still in first place in the division. The competition is chasing them. That's all you can ever really ask.

Actually, that's not really true, because really what would be good is if the Orioles bank winnable games so they have a cushion to overcome their shaky starting pitching. Blowing Saturday's game will leave a bad taste in our mouths until they play again on Tuesday, at which point there will have been about 72 hours since the last O's game.

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 8-3
Last Week: 2-3 (1-1 at Red Sox, 1-2 at Rangers)
Games Ahead: +2
Upcoming: 3 games vs. Blue Jays, 3 games at Royals

In case you were wondering which team in the American League has the worst starting rotation by ERA so far, it's ... no, surprisingly it's not the Orioles. They do have the third-worst rotation ERA among their league competitors, though perhaps luckily for them, the two teams worse than they are both reside in their own division.

On the other hand, the Orioles lead the world in home runs, with them having played only 11 games while some teams have played as many as 13. The Orioles offense remained potent even in the games they lost in the last week - which is good, because they are going to need it.

Boston Red Sox

Record: 6-5
Last Week: 3-2 (1-1 vs. Orioles, 2-1 vs. Blue Jays)
Games Behind: 2 (gained a game)
Upcoming: 1 game vs. Blue Jays, 3 games vs. Rays, 3 games at Astros

The actual team in the league with the worst starting rotation is these Red Sox, who, heading into Sunday's games, were sporting a neat, if not pretty, 6.00 ERA so far on the season. Two of their starting pitchers have been stupendously bad (Joe Kelly, Clay Buchholz) while one starter has been run-of-the-mill bad (Rick Porcello).

Pablo Sandoval, seen in this space last week having his belt explode during a swing due to the fury of his waistline, was shuffled off to the DL with what appears to be a made up shoulder injury. Meanwhile, basically every baseball writer is openly speculating about whether the Red Sox will either cut ties with all the lies that you've been living in Sandoval by releasing him, or by dumping him on some idiot team.

Also, the Red Sox demoted catching prospect Blake Swihart and will apparently be shifting him out to left field. What the heck? Well, they have another hot catching prospect, Christian Vazquez, whose return from Tommy John surgery has gone better than Matt Wieters.

Red Sox Fan Excitement: On Over The Monster, Joon Lee notes that Hanley Ramirez has done some tweaks to his swing mechanics that, so far, leave him looking like a new man.

Red Sox Fan Angst: Remember what I said about Sandoval having a made up shoulder injury? Maybe not, as Ben Buchanan on OTM notes that Sandoval is headed to Dr. James Andrews to get a second opinion on his shoulder.

Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 6-7
Last Week: 3-3 (2-1 vs. Yankees, 1-2 at Red Sox)
Games Behind: 3 (gained half a game)
Upcoming: 1 at Red Sox, 3 at Orioles, 3 vs. Athletics

By virtue of neither their starters nor their bullpen being terrible, the Jays have the 6th-best team ERA in the American League. Combine that with having Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in your offense and... seriously, how is this team below .500? Well, it's early, and also all of Russell Martin, Chris Colabello, Troy Tulowitzki, and Kevin Pillar have been horrible at the plate.

Within the last week, the Jays called up switch pitcher Pat Venditte. That doesn't mean anything in and of itself except that Venditte's very existence is cool. Getting to see him pitch and change hands between batters when he was with Oakland is one of my favorite baseball memories.

Blue Jays Fan Angst: On Bluebird Banter, writer Kevin Papetti is displeased with Jays manager John Gibbons' lineups. His improvement plan seems contingent on Tulowitzki hitting better than .119/.224/.262 for the season.

Blue Jays Fan Non-Panic: Also on BB, writer Matt Gross tries to talk people off the ledge about Tulowitzki, noting some areas in which Tulowitzki is currently struggling where he should improve based on his career to date. That's all well and good, but Tulowitzki's 31 - maybe this is the new normal. And he's guaranteed $98 million through 2020.

New York Yankees

Record: 5-6
Last Week: 2-4 (1-2 at Jays, 1-2 vs. Mariners)
Games Behind: 3 (lost half a game)
Upcoming: 3 vs. Athletics, 3 vs. Rays

Does it make you happy to look at the standings and see that the Yankees are below .500? If you said no, you're probably on the wrong website. The Yankees are the other team in the AL East with an even worse starting rotation ERA than the Orioles, coming in with a 5.60 heading into Sunday's games. If they want to keep performing like that, that would be okay with me.

One positive development for the Yankees early this season is that the frozen corpse of Carlos Beltran, soon-to-be 39 years old and in the last year of his contract, has returned to life as the Night's King, with all of the undead hordes at his command:

Winter is coming. So far this season, Beltran is batting .341/.357/.610 - and he needs to be turning it around since Jacoby Ellsbury is down in the dumps with a sub-Izturisian .213/.260/.298 batting line.

Yankees Fan Non-Panic: A common theme early on is that it's too early to panic about specific players. Over at Pinstripe Alley, writer Tom Scibelli counsels not to panic over Alex Rodriguez having a slow start. I would say a .118/.231/.294 start indeed counts as slow.

Yankees Fan Heresy: PSA writer Jason Cohen wondered whether it's time for the Yankees to change their uniforms up a bit after all of this time, and uh, some suggested changes were not exactly well received.

Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 5-7
Last Week: 3-3 (1-2 vs. Indians, 2-1 vs. White Sox)
Games Behind: 3.5 (gained half a game)
Upcoming: 3 at Red Sox, 3 at Yankees

The Rays have given up the fewest runs of any team in the division, with only 42 allowed even though they've played more games than three other teams. However, they also have scored far fewer runs than any other AL East member, clocking in with 34 runs, or a 2.83 runs/game average. It doesn't really matter how good your pitching staff is, it's hard to win when you have fewer than three runs.

Here are some pictures of dogs in Rays jerseys, just because:

Ex-Oriole Steve Pearce is batting .227/.227/.273 so far on the young season.

Kevin Kiermaier and Logan Forsythe crashed into one another on Friday night while trying to field a ball - but both were back in the lineup on Sunday, so it can't have been all that bad.

**

So there's your AL East for this week, though with so many in-division games coming along, there's lots of room for certain teams to improve and others to stop doing well.

For now, though, the Orioles remain in first place, and that's pretty dang good. Let's hope that's still true a week from now.