Another week of baseball has come and gone and the Orioles still hold on to a share of the AL East lead. If you want to get technical, they actually lead the Red Sox by seven percentage points, but since they're both ten games over .500, they are placed as being tied with one another.
This is kind of a frustrating outcome in that the Orioles are 8-2 over their last ten games and yet still the best they can manage is a tie for the lead. Then again, the Red Sox have seemingly been playing the dregs of baseball for the last three weeks running. Presumably, they'll have to face real teams eventually, and the Orioles will get their shots at some hot messes too.
In the meantime, maybe Adam Jones is really back. When I sat down to write this post this time last week, Jones was sporting a .543 OPS. In the span of one week, he has raised his batting line to .267/.328/.442 - that's a .770 OPS, in the ballpark of how he's performed the last couple of seasons. You know who else is on the rise? Jonathan Schoop, who victimized the poor Tigers bullpen in Saturday's game.
Last Week: 5-1 (2-0 at Twins, 3-1 vs. Tigers)
Games Ahead: 0 (lost half a game)
Upcoming: 3 games vs. Mariners, 3 games at Angels
Orioles starting pitchers have now had six 7+ inning starts in their last twelve games. Some of that may be just evening out their luck after they had a real lack of those types of starts early on. But like, maybe some of them are starting to figure things out at least a little bit? Don't get your hopes up too much - those 12 games have been against some struggling teams.
A whole bunch of pictures from yesterday's annual Little League parade at Oriole Park at Camden Yards:
Great day to be a kid @ The Yard: Youth Baseball Day Parade by Ripken Baseball, Kids Run the Bases & more! #PlayBall pic.twitter.com/z7ADfWrtbH— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 15, 2016
You never know, maybe a future big leaguer was among that bunch.
Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 6-1 (3-0 vs. Athletics, 3-1 vs. Astros)
Games Behind: 0 (gained half a game)
Upcoming: 3 games at Royals, 3 games vs. Indians
These charmed creatures lit up the AL West teams for 10+ runs four straight games last week, and they scored ten or more in five of the seven games that they played. Is their offense that good, or are the respective pitching staffs of Oakland and Houston just really that bad? That is the real question.
Only one of Boston's next four series is against a team that currently has better than a .500 record. I guess many teams are going to look bad next to a team with a .632 winning percentage.
No other MLB team has scored more runs than the Red Sox with 229. They are the only AL team to have scored more than 200. But their 170 runs allowed remains most in the American League.
When You Hit On A Top Ten Pick: On Over the Monster, Ben Buchanan and like all of his readers are excited that outfielder Andrew Benintendi - the 7th overall pick last year and the #22 prospect in all of MLB according to MLB.com - has gotten a promotion to Double-A Portland. The Red Sox were able to select Benintendi by virtue of really stinking in 2014.
Someone Actually Likes Their 3B Coach: I guess not every third base coach is the Windmill. Actually, OTM's Matt Collins has a lot of praise for Brian Butterfield's duties as the infield coach, where he believes the defense is perfroming well. Amazing what happens when you're not playing Pablo Sandoval out there.
Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 3-3 (2-1 at Giants, 1-2 at Rangers)
Games Behind: 5.5 (lost two games)
Upcoming: 3 games vs. Rays, 4 games at Twins
Here is a Vine of Jose Bautista getting punched right in the face:
The Blue Jays lost this game.
A regular mention in this spot through the season has been the ongoing struggle of Troy Tulowitzki. Perhaps like Jones he is making his way up from the depths. While Tulowitzki's still in the doldrums with a .698 OPS, he hit three home runs in the last week and raised his OPS by over 100 points.
He Can't Play The Orioles Every Game: On Bluebird Banter, Eric Elliott looks at one struggling player, Ryan Goins, wondering if he's playing himself out of a roster spot. I will never forget Goins as the guy who went 5-5 with a walk in a game against the O's last September, even though he's really not very good.
Someone Drew The Short Straw: Another struggling Jay is offseason acquisition Drew Storen, whom BB's Scott C. points out is just plain bad. Storen has an 8.25 ERA in 12 innings this season. That's still not as high as Brian Matusz's ERA.
Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 1-5 (0-3 at Mariners, 1-2 vs. Athletics)
Games Behind: 6.5 (lost four games)
Upcoming: 3 games at Blue Jays, 3 games at Tigers
The Red Sox may be the most potent offense in the AL. The Rays are at the other end of that. No team has scored fewer runs than the Rays. Even the woeful Twins have equaled their output - 128 runs, though the Twins have played one more game.
There's not much in the outlook for things to get better for the Rays offense. Their best 2016 performer, Logan Forsythe, landed on the disabled list after suffering a hairline fracture in his left shoulder blade. They currently hope he'll be back in the second week of June, so they'll be without him for about a month.
Some good news for the Rays offense is that Evan Longoria is getting the ship turned around - perhaps similarly to Jones and Tulowitzki. Longoria is now sporting a .248/.296/.482 batting line. That's a higher OPS than he's had in either of the last two seasons.
Exit Velocity Never Lies (Mostly): On DRaysBay, Daniel Russell unearths one of the signs of Longoria's ascent: he's been hitting the ball harder. It's pretty simple. The harder you hit it, the less time the defense has to react to the ball before it goes past them.
In Your Face, Girardi: Also on DRB, Ian Malinowski takes a look at how the Rays have been shifting and how worthwhile that's been - very, it turns out. Plus, there is a gratuitous picture of a nearly empty Yankee Stadium.
New York Yankees
Last Week: 5-2 (3-1 vs. Royals, 2-1 vs. White Sox)
Games Behind: 7 (lost half a game)
Upcoming: 3 games at Diamondbacks, 4 games at Athletics
The Yankees have gone 7-3 since I wrote an article on this website about how fun it is that the Yankees are bad. Even having gone 7-3 over their last 10 games, they're still four games below .500, but with a road trip to play two bad teams over the next week, they could easily put together another good week and nearly be .500 again.
Perhaps the biggest Yankees story over the last week is that Aroldis Chapman, one of the first player suspended under MLB's domestic violence policy, made his return and took over the closer's mantle. They will now be working with the formidable trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Chapman going forward.
The next biggest Yankees story is that starting pitcher Luis Severino, a young pitcher on whom they have pinned many hopes, landed on the DL with a right triceps strain. Any time you get anywhere near that elbow, you have to worry at least a little bit about Tommy John. Two of the Yankees Opening Day starters are now on the DL, along with CC Sabathia.
Don't Forget About Kirby: On Pinstripe Alley, Christopher Novak points out the under-the-radar performance of bullpen arm Kirby Yates, who at this point in the season has struck out 17 batters in 14.1 innings. Perhaps that bullpen trio is a bullpen quartet.
Like Jesus Montero Before Him: On Pinstripe Alley, Andrew Mearns celebrated the arrival of top catching prospect Gary Sanchez. The 23-year-old is the #3 Yankees prospect and was #55 overall in MLB on their top 100 list.
Another week begins where the Orioles are in first place. They have little margin for error right now, at least as long as the Red Sox keep winning. But then again, maybe the Red Sox are just as frustrated that they pulled off a 6-1 week and the best they could do is pull into a tie for first.