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Around the AL East, Week 8: Winless week worries weary Oriole fans

The third-place Birds are now closer to last than first, with the division-leading Yankees coming to town.

Baltimore Orioles v Houston Astros
Kevin Gausman pitches well on Friday but Orioles’ bats provided no support.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles were so hard to watch all week getting swept by the Twins and Astros. They blew leads in their bookend losses Monday and yesterday, and in between got shutout twice and played terribly. They’ve now lost seven straight games and 13 of their last 16 to drop 4.5 games behind the Yankees – five in the loss column.

Silver linings

The Orioles’ 15-7 home record is the best in the AL. Home cooking better be the tonic they need this week as they host the two teams ahead of them in the division – the Yankees and Red Sox.

Kevin Gausman’s fastball is up to 98 mph and he’s given up two earned runs in each of his last two starts.

Ubaldo Jimenez pitched effectively in relief yesterday, allowing just two runs and five hits in six innings striking out five with no walks.

Bourn Free

Outfielder Michael Bourn chose to opt out of his minor league contract once the Orioles didn’t bring him up to the bigs. Bourn hit just .220 in 51 plate appearances for AAA Norfolk, but he hopes his .373 OBP will help him hook up with a major league team. Doubtful.

Last week: 0-6 (0-3 vs. Twins; 0-3 at Astros)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Yankees; 4 games vs. Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

The Mariners shutout the Red Sox yesterday, 5-0, ending Boston’s six-game winning streak that skipped them past the Orioles for second place.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 10-for-25 for the week and hit his first homer of the year, after going yard 21 times last year. His productive line for 2016 stands at .331/.394./457.

Panda news

Bogaerts’ expected partner on the left side of the infield, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, continued to struggle on his rehab for his injured knee, hitting .143/.217/.238 in six games with AAA Pawtucket. The Red Sox may be looking for a replacement, and the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo names Todd Frazier and Jhonny Peralta as possible trade targets.

Last week: 5-1 (3-0 vs. Rangers; 2-1 vs. Mariners)

Week ahead: 3 games at White Sox; 3 games at Orioles

New York Yankees

The Yankees stretched their lead atop the AL East to three games over the second place Red Sox. They got strong starting pitching performances last week, highlighted by Luis Severino’s eight shutout innings versus the Royals Wednesday in at 3-0 win. He struck out seven and only allowed one runner to make it to second base. He’s now 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA and a filthy 1.055 WHIP.

Who needs Chapman?

Since closer Aroldis Chapman landed on the DL, Dellin Betances has been brilliant gong 5-for-5 in save situations, giving up just one hit and no runs over 5.1 innings while striking out 10 and not allowing a base on balls.

Last week: 4-2 (2-1 vs. Royals; 2-1 vs. Athletics)

Week ahead: 3 games at Orioles; 4 games at Blue Jays

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays scored two in the ninth to tie the Twins and survived the resulting 15-inning marathon winning 8-6. First baseman Logan Morrison continued to provide surprising power by hitting his 15th home run in the top of the winning inning. Corey Dickerson also stayed hot and fed his all-star caliber year going 4-for-8 and raising his line to .337/.380./608.

Tower of power

With 12 homers, Dickerson joins Morrison as the key contributors to the Rays’ surprising lead in AL long balls with 74.

Last week: 3-4 (2-2 vs. Angels; 1-2 at Twins)

Week ahead: 3 games at Rangers; 3 games at Mariners

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto’s five-game winning streak ended yesterday, but their improved performance brings their record to four games below .500 record after a terrible 2-11 start to the season.

No Encarnacion

After losing long-time offensive beast Edwin Encarnacion to free agency last offseason, the Jays signed Kendrys Morales to fill the void. Despite his nine home runs this year, Morales has just a .303 OBP, joining Jose Bautista as under achievers in the middle of Toronto’s lineup. Bautista also has nine round-trippers but is hitting just .239.

Encarnacion is struggling too with his new Indians team, hitting nine home runs as well while batting just .225, but has a .343 OBP.

Last week: 4-1 (2-0 at Brewers; 2-1 vs. Rangers)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Reds; 4 games vs. Yankees