There has not been a day this season where the Orioles were any more than half a game out of the lead in the American League East. This does not mean they are running away with the division. The ongoing duel for the top with the Red Sox continues for another week.
These two teams have been neck-and-neck for nearly three weeks now. Since April 30, either the O's or the Red Sox have led the division every day and neither one has ever led by more than a single game over the other. That could all change in a hurry, but for now, that's the way that things are going.
Who do you think will blink first? Eventually these two teams will play one another and that may start to clarify things a bit more. That time is coming soon, in fact - just not this week.
- Record: 26-16
- Last Week: 3-3 (1-2 vs. Mariners, 2-1 at Angels)
- Games Ahead: 0 (same)
- Upcoming: 3 games at Astros, 3 games at Indians
One way to look at the Orioles going .500 for a week is that if they went .500 for the entire rest of the season, they would finish with 86 wins. While that certainly exceeds the expectations of the preseason haters, that's probably not going to get them into the postseason either.
In this article a week ago, I wondered whether Adam Jones was back. He's responded to that by going back into a horrendous slump. Jones went 2-23 over the last six games. His OPS has fallen by 88 points over the last week.
Maybe it's Matt Wieters' turn to heat up here. Wieters went 9-16 in this stretch, including the clutch three-run home run to put the Orioles up in the ninth inning on Saturday night - his 30th birthday present to the Orioles and himself, it seems. He now has a .785 OPS on the season, in line with or a bit better than his best full seasons.
Dylan Bundy milked a cow this weekend:
Boston Red Sox
- Record: 27-17
- Last Week: 3-3 (1-2 vs. Royals, 2-1 vs. Indians)
- Games Behind: 0 (same)
- Upcoming: 3 vs. Rockies, 3 at Blue Jays
Jackie Bradley Jr. is one game away from being halfway to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. It's rare enough to see someone get that far, but he has a long way to go. In the meantime, he's batting over .400 over his hitting streak and he's raised his OPS by more than 400 points.
Bradley is actually in second in the AL for OPS - trailing only his teammate, the vandal David Ortiz, who to the best of my knowledge has not destroyed any property this past week... or at least no property other than baseballs. The guy is 40 and he's batting .329/.408/.684. That's something, alright.
The Red Sox have scored 55 more runs than the next-closest AL team.
It's As Weird As It Seems: You may find the Red Sox pitching staff puzzling. You're not the only one, as Over The Monster's Jackie Powell offered some thoughts on how strange it is that the Sox are succeeding despite their most-hyped pitchers doing poorly.
The Heir To Ryan Lavarnway: The latest super-ultra-mega Red Sox catching prospect is Christian Vazquez, but he's only batting .225/.271/.325. OTM's Matt Collins wonders whether that will be good enough even though he's said to be very good defensively.
New York Yankees
- Record: 21-22
- Last Week: 5-2 (1-2 at Diamondbacks, 4-0 at Athletics)
- Games Behind: 5.5 (gained 1.5 games)
- Upcoming: 3 games vs. Blue Jays, 3 games at Rays
So much for gleefully talking about the last place Yankees. Thanks to two weeks in a row where they've gone 5-2, part of a 13-8 month of May, one of the devil's most favored teams has ascended from the depths. They're still below .500 but they are back there in the rear view mirror.
Things are going this well for the Yankees despite having two absolute black holes in their lineup. Mark Teixeira is now batting .193/.295/.283 on the season, while Chase Headley isn't much better off at .213/.297/.279. Tex is in the last year of his contract, but Headley's getting paid through 2018.
There are two Yankees who individually have more stolen bases than the Orioles team combined. What is that like, I wonder? Jacoby Ellsbury has nine - though he's been caught four times - while Brett Gardner has been successful on eight of nine attempts.
That's How You Get Prospects: Yankees shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo - the #26 prospect in MLB, according to MLB.com before the season, is one of the untouchables. Pinstripe Alley's Nikhil Chaturvedi has more on what makes Mateo so good.
The Left-Hand Man: Didi Gregorius is a bat left/throw right guy - and he's been bad against lefties at the plate in his career. That's improved this year, says PSA's Jason Hecht. The cost of Gregorius hitting better against LHP is he's atrocious against righties, with only a .576 OPS heading into Sunday's games.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Record: 20-21
- Last Week: 4-2 (3-0 at Blue Jays, 1-2 at Tigers)
- Games Behind: 5.5 (gained a game)
- Upcoming: 4 games at/vs. Miami, 3 games vs. Yankees
The Rays are tied with the Orioles for the MLB lead in home runs as a team. That is not what you likely would have guessed heading into this season, is it? The Rays don't have anyone with double digit home runs but they do have four players with at least seven homers.
One of those players is former Oriole Steve Pearce, who's hit seven bombs in 109 plate appearances. He's now batting .312/.404/.570 on the season. Think you might rather have him than Pedro Alvarez? Pearce is making $1 million less than Alvarez, too.
They did get some bad news this past week, as center fielder and reigning Gold Glover Kevin Kiermaier broke multiple bones in his left hand while trying to make a diving catch.
Mahtook By Surprise: With the injury to Kiermaier, the Rays called up Mikie Mahtook, which seems to be cause for at least a little optimism, according to DRaysBay's Jack Kelly. Mahtook is the Rays #10 prospect as rated by MLB.com.
Turn Back For What? Despite not existing until the 1990s, the Rays will be having a Turn Back The Clock night to the 1970s this year. DRB's Daniel Russell writes about the upcoming celebration of the disco decade and what he calls "faux-back" uniforms.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Record: 22-24
- Last Week: 3-4 (0-3 vs. Rays, 3-1 at Twins)
- Games Behind: 6 (lost half a game)
- Upcoming: 3 games at Yankees, 3 games vs. Red Sox
Jays manager John Gibbons has been ejected from three games in the last week. He was also suspended for three of those games in this past week due to his actions in the whole Odor/Bautista brawl. What a class act right there.
No one got punched in the face that we know of this week. One thing that did happen for the Jays is that Jose Bautista led off Sunday's game with a home run. Leadoff man Bautista is pretty weird. But he has a .373 on-base percentage so I guess that makes sense.
There is no team in the American League with more losses out of their bullpen than the Jays. They rank #10 in bullpen ERA, so you'd expect other teams to have worse luck here, but no. Drew Storen and Brett Cecil have both been pretty bad.
Almost As Bad As Trading Arrieta: On Bluebird Banter, Matt W. recaps the last several years worth of Jays drafts - with a serious lament for them having traded Noah Syndergaard. Well... it could be worse for them.
They Might Not Miss Him: The aforementioned Cecil has a torn lat muscle and will be out for at least a month, writes BB's Tom Dakers. Probably not many Jays fans will miss him in that time.
At least so far, it's shaping up to be a two team race in the division, though if the Yankees keep surging, that'll be expanding to three. I would like for them to stop getting so hot, thanks.
Here's hoping that after another week passes and this feature comes around again, the Orioles still find themselves atop the division.