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Around the AL East, Week 13: A week the Orioles wish they could have back

Things feel bad with the Orioles right now, but they only lost a game in the last week to their competition, so it could have been worse.

Just about right now things feel as bad with the Orioles as they can possibly feel. There’s nothing quite like a four game sweep to bring reality crushing back down on you. It’s not like the Orioles looked particularly good at any point against the Mariners, especially not their starting pitching. It’s a problem and it will continue to be so.

Still, here we are on Independence Day and the Orioles are 13 games over .500 with a three game lead over their closest division opponent. As bad as that Mariners series was, the Orioles have only lost a game each to the Red Sox and Blue Jays over the last week. That’s not so bad.

What makes things feel especially bleak right now is not knowing when or if there will be any improvement in the rotation. The Orioles bullpen essentially has to carry four separate long men right now because that’s what they continue to need. You never know when the starting pitcher is just going to get wrecked in the third inning.

But it was only one bad week, and if it stops there then this will be little more than a bump in the road. There’s still half the schedule left to play and the Orioles, for now, remain in the driver’s seat.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Record: 47-34
  • Last Week: 2-4 (2-0 at Padres, 0-4 at Mariners)
  • Games Ahead: +3 (lost a game on Red Sox)
  • Upcoming: 3 games at Dodgers, 3 games vs. Angels

You know that you’re having some problems when the calendar turns over to July and three of the five pitchers who’ve started more than ten games have ERAs over 5. As well, the best Orioles starter - the nominal ace - is Chris Tillman, whose ERA is a 3.71.

Tyler Wilson has been demoted. He doesn’t look like he ought to be coming back right away. Who will take his spot eventually? There’s no need for an immediate answer, which is good, because there isn’t an immediate answer.

Not all is bad with the Orioles. They are still hitting a lot of home runs - and in the last week they did secure the June record for home runs, after all. They have MLB’s individual home run leader on their team as well, in Mark Trumbo, who’s hit 24 to date. Even Hyun Soo Kim is getting in on the act - and Kim, by the way, has an OPS of .900 right now.

Here’s hoping the Orioles next six games against Los Angeles-based teams go better than the last week’s misadventure in Seattle. Hey, at least they won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw, right?

Boston Red Sox

  • Record: 44-37
  • Last Week: 3-3 (1-2 at Rays, 2-1 vs. Angels)
  • Games Behind: 3 (gained a game)
  • Upcoming: 3 games vs. Rangers, 3 games vs. Rays

A rotation has to work pretty hard to be about as bad as the Orioles rotation. The Red Sox have proven to be nearly equal to this task. The Red Sox entered Sunday’s games with a 4.83 ERA from their rotation, compared to 5.07 for the Orioles.

These are both very bad numbers, although the Red Sox rotation is at least doing a bit better about eating innings than the O’s are. Boston’s starters have thrown nearly 30 more innings. Indeed, the Red Sox have three starters who have tossed more than 100 innings. The Orioles have none.

The Vandal, David Ortiz, at the age of 40, has maintained an OPS of over 1.100 since May 25. That kind of performance has been unheard of since the later days of the career of Barry Bonds. Do you think it will enhance his chances of changing his mind about retiring?

Another Cheating New England Team: The Red Sox are cheating cheaters and they got caught doing so. You can read the dirty details from Over The Monster’s Ben Buchanan. This would be more exciting if the Orioles had any chance of signing any one of these international amateurs instead.

No Time To Panic: OTM’s Bryan Joiner cautions his fellow Red Sox fans that it’s too soon to panic about the Red Sox, and sure enough, they’ve righted the ship a bit... though they did get blown out 21-2 on Saturday, which is hilarious (for us).

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Record: 45-39
  • Last Week: 4-3 (2-1 at Rockies, 2-2 vs. Indians)
  • Games Behind: 4 (gained a game)
  • Upcoming: 3 games vs. Royals, 3 games vs. Tigers

Blowouts are contagious, except the Jays, rather than getting blown out, managed to knock the stuffing out of the Indians on Sunday, winning 17-1. The day before, they finally halted the 14-game winning streak of the Indians, as well.

Were you impressed by the Red Sox having three starters who’ve gone over 100 innings? The Blue Jays have ALL FIVE of their starting pitchers up over 100 innings pitched for the season.

They have thrown 30 more innings than any other starting unit and their five main starters have started 83 of the 84 games the Jays have played to date. Even the one struggler with a 5+ ERA, Marcus Stroman, leads the team in innings pitched.

With a hot week, Edwin Encarnacion has raised his OPS over .900 for the first time since the second game of the season.

Don’t Bump The Umpires: Speaking of Encarnacion, he bumped an umpire during Friday’s 19 inning loss to the Indians, and as Bluebird Banter’s Mike Hannah observes, that means Encarnacion’s going to be suspended for a game - well, eventually.

I Wonder What That’s Like: Apparently there’s a lot of young pitching in the Jays pipeline to get excited about, as BB’s Jake Sinclair writes. Nothing personal, but I hope that they end up disappointed by the crop.

New York Yankees

  • Record: 40-41
  • Last Week: 3-4 (2-2 vs. Rangers, 1-2 at Padres)
  • Games Behind: 7 (gained half a game)
  • Upcoming: 3 games at White Sox, 4 games at Indians

Here we are, wishing a happy birthday to these United States of America, and the Yankees have not been more than a single game over .500 since April 12. They haven’t been in last place for a while by virtue of the Rays being so much worse, but hey, one thing at a time.

The Yankees, by the way, have a starting rotation that is also nearly as bad as the Orioles. They entered Sunday’s play with a rotation ERA of 4.70. That’s actually good for 8th in the American League - not great, but not the worst out there. Like the Orioles, they have three starters with 10+ starts who have an ERA over 5.

At long last, the Yankees have their first choice first baseman, Mark Teixeira, back from injury. Teixeira has a season OPS of .599, so how much is that worth, really? Well, he’s raised his OPS by 64 points since his return from the DL, so maybe it’s worth something. Teixeira hit two home runs in the Yankees Sunday win.

No Rest For The Wicked: On Pinstripe Alley, Jason Hecht argues about the importance of giving more rest to Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the second half of the season. When I watch J.J. Hardy try to run, I think the same about him.

A Sky Without Stars: PSA’s Matt Provenzano writes that, as long as the Yankees don’t have any superstars, they’re kind of stuck where they are. Worst of luck in finding a new one, Yankees, really.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Record: 33-48
  • Last Week: 2-5 (2-1 vs. Red Sox, 0-4 vs. Tigers)
  • Games Behind: 14 (lost half a game)
  • Upcoming: 4 games vs. Angels, 3 games at Red Sox

These guys are out of it and the open speculation of when and how they’ll sell off their assets in trades has begun. Granted, that speculation has fired up from some writers who often throw out a lot of nonsense rumors, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Rays active before the deadline.

The Rays do have some well-regarded pitchers with service time remaining, though Chris Archer (4.50 ERA) and Matt Moore (4.67 ERA) could certainly be making better cases for themselves to be useful to other teams than they have been now.

It’s not all bad for the Rays, with Evan Longoria having his best season in the last three years, batting .278/.330/.524. Logan Forsythe, too, with his .304/.366/.488 batting line, is looking pretty good. But there’s not much else good about their offense, which is why they have the fewest runs scored in the AL, and the worst bating average, to boot.

**

It feels bad, right now, with the Orioles coming off the wrong end of a four game sweep in Seattle.

The Orioles themselves don’t seem to feel too bad, as evidenced by Adam Jones’ post-game remarks to Orioles reporters: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s four games. It’s not September. This didn’t knock us out of contention.”

Jones is a smart guy. Here’s hoping he’s right. This time next week, we’ll be in the All-Star break. Can the Orioles extend their lead heading into the break, or will this week to come bring the competition closer to them?