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Around the AL East, Week 2: The Orioles own best record in baseball, but Yankees surge

Through Easter Sunday, the Orioles continued their eggcellent start, but the Yankees’ crack second place with a seven-game winning streak. Boston scrambles to keep pace; the Rays were beaten often and put pitcher Jake Overeasy on the disabled list; and the fried Jays remain in last place.

Alec Asher
Alec Asher gave the Orioles rotation a welcome boost Saturday.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Owning the best MLB record after the first two weeks of the season is great for Oriole fans, but the joy is tempered by concern over Zach Britton’s forearm injury and the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak.

Baltimore Orioles

The back end of the rotation will likely be a focal point for the team throughout the season, so it was good to see quality starts from Wade Miley and Alec Asher. Striking out eight Blue Jays over six innings without giving up a walk, Miley helped lead the Orioles to a 6-4 win on Friday night. And despite the 2-1 loss on Saturday, Asher mixed his pitches well giving up only one earned run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Since the Birds won’t need a fifth starter until Saturday and need bullpen assistance now, Asher may go back to AAA but has earned another shot for sure.

Unfortunately, Ubaldo Jimenez was consistently inconsistent in his start on Wednesday, unable to hold a 9-0 lead long enough to earn a victory. Pulled in the fifth inning after throwing 104 pitches (37 of which were balls), Jimenez forced Showalter to use his bullpen earlier than he wished to preserve the 12-5 win over Boston.

With Zach Britton now on the disabled list with forearm tightness adding to an overtaxed bullpen, Oriole starters must give the team quality innings.

Last week: 4-2 (1-1 at Red Sox; 3-1 at Blue Jays)

Week ahead: 3 games at Reds; 3 games vs. Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

In Boston, it’s double trouble from first baseman Mitch Moreland. Added this year to help replace David Ortiz’s offensive production, Moreland hasn’t disappointed. He’s hitting .356 thus far and leads the league with nine doubles on his way to a .622 slugging percentage. Playing every day due to Hanley Ramirez’s shoulder and stomach ailments, Moreland is again playing a solid first base as the reigning AL gold glove winner.

At the other corner, third base, Pablo Sandoval is not exactly pulling his weight – despite his recent diet. He has hit three home runs, but is only batting .143 through the first two weeks of the season.

Last week: 4-3 (0-1 at Tigers; 1-1 vs. Orioles; 1-0 vs. Pirates; 2-1 vs. Rays)

Week ahead: 1 game vs. Rays; 3 games vs. Blue Jays; 3 games at Orioles

New York Yankees

The Yankees’ starting rotation was red hot the second week of the year, leading the team to a seven-game winning streak. Masahiro Tanaka gave them 6 1/3 solid innings in his third start and first win of the season against the Cardinals on Friday.

C.C. Sabathia won his second game and lowered his ERA to 1.47 in a 3-2 win over St. Louis. It didn’t hurt that Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez was wild as could be, walking eight in 5 1/3 innings (while striking out 11).

But it was Michael Pineda who looked especially strong this week, winning twice. On Monday, he took a perfect game into the seventh inning, striking out 11 in 7 1/3 innings and beating the Rays 8-1. He wrapped up the week Sunday night pitching seven strong innings against St. Louis.

Last week: 6-0 (3-0 vs. Rays; 3-0 vs. Cardinals)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. White Sox; 3 games at Pirates

Tampa Bay Rays

After starting the season winning five of seven at home, Tampa Bay hit the road with a thud losing three in a row to the Yankees and two of three in Boston. Things got worse for the Rays on Saturday when starter Jake Odorizzi lasted only one pitch into his second inning of work before leaving the game Saturday and landing on the 10-day DL with a strained hamstring.

Another in a long line of good young Tampa Bay pitchers, Odorizzi has compiled a 3.75 ERA and a 1.209 WHIP in his career and has a 19-15 record with a 3.53 ERA in 61 starts the past two years. Pitcher Chase Whitley has been called up to replace him and it appears he or swingman Erasmo Ramirez will take his spot in the rotation. The Rays hope Odorizzi will miss only two starts.

Last week: 1-5 (0-3 at Yankees; 1-2 at Red Sox)

Week ahead: 1 game at Red Sox; 3 games vs. Tigers; 3 games at Astros

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays broke their seven-game losing streak on a walk off Kendrys Morales homer Saturday off of the Orioles’ Tyler Wilson, yet the celebration was short-lived. But that proved to be their only win for the week, losing big to Baltimore on Sunday, 11-4.

To add injury to insult, the Jays placed former MVP Josh Donaldson and starter Aaron Sanchez on the disabled list. Then, Sunday’s starter J.A. Happ had to leave the game with elbow soreness. He will undergo an MRI today.

Last week: 1-5 (0-2 vs. Brewers; 1-3 vs. Orioles)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Red Sox; 3 games at Angels