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Around the AL East, Week 3: Orioles win two more series, extend lead to 1.5 games

Orioles still the class of the division, while Red Sox show no class at all. The Yankees and Blue Jays both play .500 ball, and the Rays improve to .500 for the year. 

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles
Manny Machado tries to help Dustin Pedroia after accidentally spiking him.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles continue their first-place standing and maintain the best record in the American League.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles battled like champions against the Red Sox over the weekend, winning two close games before falling yesterday, 6-2. Despite the loss that saw Boston take a 4-0 lead before starter Kevin Gausman could record his first out, the Birds took the high road when Beaneater pitcher Matt Barnes’ attempted to bean Manny Machado.

Watching Machado keep his composure after ducking from a fastball aimed at his head showed great maturity from the often-emotional third baseman. He retaliated in the best way by driving a hard double deep to center field on the very next pitch, extending his five-game hitting streak.

Manny was classy all weekend, immediately trying to aid Dustin Pedroia Friday night after his hard slide spiked the second baseman in the calf and then contacting him after the game to tell him he didn’t mean to injure him.

Pedroia understood. Too bad his volatile manager John Farrell did not. Of course, he doesn’t seem to understand much, including the slide rule itself, designed to protect middle infielders when turning a double play.

He called MLB’s Joe Torre to complain that the umpires should have ruled for a double play. The circles beneath Joe’s eyes probably got a little darker when he had to explain that there was no possible double play on the slow roller, and the umpires judged it correctly.

Week three also featured two outstanding performances from starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley, who combined to give up only one run in 15.1 innings in two wins versus the Cincinnati Reds.

We’ll see if Ubaldo can somehow maintain some consistency and bring it again tonight, as the Birds continue their home stand against Tampa Bay.

Last week: 4-2 (2-1 at Reds; 2-1 vs. Red Sox)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Rays; 3 games at Yankees

Boston Red Sox

Yesterday’s victory against the Orioles highlighted outstanding starts to the season for two key Red Sox players. Rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi had five hits in as many at-bats, raising his season line to .347/.415/.444.

And closer Craig Kimbrel rebounded from a blown save earlier in the week by getting the final out and earning his seventh save. He lowered his ERA to 1.93 and his WHIP to a super-nasty 0.64. He now has 17 Ks in 9.1 innings.

Earlier in the week, ace Chris Sale struck out 13 in eight scoreless innings against Toronto. Jose Bautista was spotted wearing a golden sombrero by the Canadian border after the game.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Yankees; 3 games vs. Cubs

New York Yankees

The Yankees wrapped up their .500-week with a 2-1 loss to a familiar foe. Former Pinstriper and current Pirate pitcher Ivan Nova dominated his former team yesterday in route to a 2-1 victory by pitching one-run ball over seven innings.

New York sent Nova to Pittsburgh in August of last year in exchange for outfielder Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley, the former Oriole pitching prospect dealt by the Birds to the Pirates in the ill-advised Travis Snider trade.

Last week: 3-3 (2-1 vs. White Sox; 1-2 at Pirates)

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

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays were happy to return home after a disastrous 1-6 road trip that ended with a three-game sweep in Boston. They took their revenge out on the Tigers, scoring 21 runs and winning all three contests. Outfielder Steven Souza stayed hot, missing the cycle by only a single in Thursday’s 8-1 victory over Detroit. He’s now hitting .347 with four dingers and 17 ribbies.

The Rays also played well in their three-game series against the red-hot Astros, dropping the rubber game yesterday, 6-4, in extra innings.

Last week: 4-2 (0-1 at Red Sox 3-0 vs. Tigers; 1-2 vs. Astros)

Week ahead: 3 games at Orioles; 3 games at Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays

It seems early to say the Blue Jays are trying to salvage their season, but they have dug a deep hole for themselves. Already 7.5 games out of first place, Toronto would be in worse shape if not for Kevin Pillar’s 11-game hitting streak. He’s batting .362 with three homers during this stretch, but that’s only resulted in five RBIs. Nevertheless, the Jays played .500 baseball in week three, and that’s some progress.

They also suffered another injury, sending shortstop Troy Tulowitzski to the DL for a strained hammy. It’s not expected to be severe.

The coming week sees them traveling to St. Louis to play the Cardinals. Craving some offense, DH Kendrys Morales will likely play in the field all three games. The way things are going for the Jays, the ball will certainly find him.

Last week: 3-3 (1-2 vs. Red Sox; 2-1 at Angels)

Week ahead: 1 game at Angels; 3 games at Cardinals; 3 games vs. Rays