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Around the AL East, Week 4: The Orioles are tied for first place

For Yankees, it's "Here comes the Judge," as the Orioles take a brief recess from first place. They ended the week tied for the top.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles ended their streak of not losing a season series after a convincing 12-4 defeat to the Yankees on Saturday that featured another erratic start by Ubaldo Jimenez. That loss clinched the series for New York who also beat the Birds in a most nauseating way Friday night. The Orioles blew an eight-run lead to the Yankees, giving up five home runs and losing in 14-11 in ten innings.

Starter Kevin Gausman continued his disappointing month of April, giving up five earned runs in six innings Friday and raising his ERA to 7.50. But the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead either. Vidal Nuno and Jayson Aquino both imploded and earned tickets back to Norfolk. And Brad Brach blew his first save of the year when he couldn’t protect a three-run lead. He hadn’t allowed a run all season in 11 previous appearances.

The bullpen continued to have issues yesterday as Darren O’Day and Donnie Hart failed to save a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning. But new arrival Logan Verrett pitched two strong innings showing good movement on his pitches and an effective slider to earn the victory in a 7-4, 11-inning win.

The beleaguered pitching staff is hoping for the return this week of closer Zach Britton and starter Chris Tillman. Britton pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one and giving up one hit in his second rehab appearance for Bowie yesterday.

The Orioles were considering pitching Tillman Tuesday in Boston, but decided to give him one more start at Norfolk instead. If all goes well, he will toe the rubber at Camden Yards this weekend against the White Sox. Alec Asher is scheduled to pitch Tuesday at Fenway.

Last week: 3-3 (2-1 vs. Rays; 1-2 at Yankees)

Week ahead: 4 games at Red Sox; 3 games vs. White Sox

Boston Red Sox

Major League Baseball had an opportunity to make a statement about the absurdity of pitchers throwing at batters as payback, by levying a significant suspension for Matt Barnes’ actions in the April 23 game against the Orioles. But all he got was a four-game penalty for sailing a missile at Manny Machado’s head two days after his hard slide inadvertently injured Dustin Pedroia. A more severe suspension likely would have been reduced upon appeal based upon precedent, but MLB still could have made a stronger statement.

Boston hosts the Orioles tonight. Let’s hope there won’t be any incidents.

The Red Sox should be more concerned about their struggling offense after scoring just one run in two losses to the Yankees last week. They managed only three hits in a 3-0 complete game loss to Masahiro Tanaka and just four in a 3-1 defeat to Luis Severino.

David Price continues to rehab from his elbow injury, saying he felt good after pitching a simulated game on Saturday. He is scheduled to throw another on Saturday.

Last week: 2-3 (0-2 vs. Yankees; 2-1 vs. Cubs)

Week ahead: 4 games vs. Orioles; 3 games at Twins

New York Yankees

Outfielder Aaron Judge may be named the American League player of the week despite the Yankees only playing five games. The rookie batted .400 with four homers and seven RBIs. He also drew seven walks that helped bring his current OBP to .411. But it’s his power that is drawing the most attention. Judge’s ten April home runs tie the MLB record for rookies. It’s the third time in the last four years a first-year player achieved this feat – Jose Abreu in 2014 and Trevor Story last year.

The Yankees travel to Chicago to face the Cubs this coming weekend. Be ready to hear about Babe Ruth’s famous, but debated, “home run call” at Wrigley Field in game three of the 1932 World Series. Here are some details and a take from the New York Post.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Blue Jays; 3 games at Cubs

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays lost a couple of tough games in week four, as they continue to struggle to play above .500. Yesterday, ace Chris Archer deserved a better fate in Tampa Bay’s loss to Toronto. Archer pitched 7.1 innings and left with a 1-0 lead but Alex Colome couldn’t hold it giving up a game-tying double to Jose Bautista and run-scoring singles to Russell Martin and Ezequiel Carrera.

Earlier in the week, the Rays lost a chance to give the Orioles their first series loss of the season in a literal walk-off win for the Birds when Danny Farquhar walked Seth Smith with the bases loaded.

The Rays are hoping that Steven Souza’s hand isn’t hurt badly after being hit by a pitch on Saturday. The X-rays look good, but he didn’t play yesterday. Tampa Bay needs his .330/.411/.543 production back in the lineup.

Pitcher Jake Odorizzi has recovered from his hamstring injury and is expected to come off the DL today to start tonight against the Marlins.

Last week: 2-4 (1-2 at Orioles; 1-2 at Blue Jays)

Week ahead: 2 games at Marlins; 2 games vs. Marlins; 3 games vs. Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays

The struggling Blue Jays won their first series of the year by winning the rubber game against the Rays yesterday, but got another scare when starter Aaron Sanchez left the game after the first inning with a cracked fingernail. Manager John Gibbons, however, does not expect Sanchez to land on the disabled list.

Coming from behind yesterday, the Jays scored three times in the eighth but remain eight games behind the division-leading Orioles and Yankees.

Last week: 3-4 (0-1 at Angels; 1-2 at Cardinals; 2-1 vs. Rays)

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