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Around the AL East, Week 5: The Orioles keep winning, but so do the Yankees

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After splitting with the dirty BoSox, Orioles make clean sweep of the ChiSox. Unfortunately, the Yankees stayed hot, too.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
Another unheralded Oriole pitcher, Tyler Wilson, contributes to big win for the Birds.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
AL East Standings

Baltimore Orioles

Despite injuries to Zach Britton, Welington Castillo and Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles continued to play well and are now riding a four-game winning streak after sweeping the White Sox during a damp and chilly Baltimore weekend. The weather, nor the return to the DL of their closer Zach Britton, deterred the Birds from their winning ways.

New arrivals Gabriel Ynoa and Alec Asher are two of the several unheralded Oriole pitchers who have contributed to Oriole wins this year. They both logged strong relief innings in victories this weekend, and Asher had a quality start in a loss to the Red Sox.

But it was Tyler Wilson who may have pitched the biggest game of the week. He gave the team a huge lift Thursday, filling in for Ubaldo Jimenez who was needed in relief after Kevin Gausman was tossed in Wednesday’s difficult loss to Boston.

Facing the possibility of losing three of four against a Red Sox team that played a dirty series but somehow avoided punishment from MLB, Wilson pitched six strong innings to gain the 8-3 victory.

In his first start of the season yesterday, Chris Tillman came off the DL and pitched out of a few jams allowing three hits and three walks in five innings without giving up a run.

Joey Rickard kept the leadoff position warm for Seth Smith with three hits, two steals, a double and a run scored in the Birds 4-0 shutout. Smith is 7 for 12 in his last four games from the number one hole.

It was good to see the Orioles’ offense pick it up a bit in week five. Chris Davis started to make better contact at the plate, batting .429 during a four-game stretch. The Orioles other middle-of-the-order slugger off to a slow start – Mark Trumbo – hit in four straight to wrap up the week, batting .438.

It looks like Schoop, who is nursing a sore hand after being hit by a pitch Friday night, will be the first of the injured to return to action this week. There’s also a good chance Castillo will be activated from the 10-day DL on Thursday as he recovers from shoulder tendonitis.

For Britton, the news is not as good. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports that he will he will see a specialist in Los Angeles today about his sore forearm.

Last week: 5-2 (2-2 at Red Sox; 3-0 vs. White Sox)

Week ahead: 2 games vs. Nationals; 2 games at Nationals; 3 games at Royals

Boston Red Sox

Despite the widely reported comments by MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre that he thought Chris Sale intentionally threw at Manny Machado in Tuesday’s game and that Sale would face some kind of punishment, all we’ve heard since is the sound of crickets. Perhaps Torre and Commissioner Rob Manfred are rubbing their grubby little legs together too hoping no one is noticing the favoritism shown to the Red Sox during this past week’s debacle.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal posted Torre’s full remarks, which included these thoughts on Chris Sale’s pitch:

“That’s something we don’t really tolerate, throwing behind somebody . . . that’s something that’s dangerous. It looked like it was intentional. Chris Sale is a great pitcher. When he throws the ball behind somebody, unless it’s a rainy day, I don’t see that being by mistake.”

Then, where’s the punishment? We’re still waiting Joe.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Brewers; 3 games vs. Rays

New York Yankees

Most everything seems to be going right for the Yankees as they finished the week with a sweep of the World Champion Chicago Cubs to take a 0.5 game lead over the Orioles.

The team’s balanced approach is helping them to win games in various ways. Whether it be Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka or Luis Severino contributing quality starts to hand off to closer Aroldis Chapman and his 100-MPH fastball or Aaron Judge and Starlin Castro leading an offense with few if any holes, the Yankees have won nine of their last 11 games and five straight.

These starters will likely need to keep it up to cover for aging veteran C.C. Sabathia. After earning three wins in three starts to begin the season, Sabathia has struggled mightily in his last three games.

Ex-Oriole Steve Pearce hit a three-run homer in the first inning of Sabathia’s Wednesday start against the Jays. He ended up giving up six runs in four innings seeing his ERA rise to 5.45 and his WHIP to 1.52.

The Yankees have a rare off day on a Wednesday this week in between a short two-game interleague series in Cincinnati and four games at home against the AL West-leading Houston Astros.

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

Week ahead: 2 games at Reds; 4 games vs. Astros

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays always seem to develop good, young pitchers and this year seems to be no exception. The starting rotation, comprised of 20-somethings Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Andriese, Alex Cobb and Blake Snell, all have ERAs of 3.57 or below.

And their offense is holding their own – the Rays have actually scored eight more runs than the Orioles. A record of 2-5 in one-run games is one reason Tampa Bay is struggling to get above .500, but don’t count this team out.

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

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

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blues Jays finally played their first week of .500 baseball, creatively eking out a 2-1 win against the Rays yesterday. Relief pitcher Joe Biagini was pressed into a starting role with a limited pitch count. He pitched four scoreless innings before being removed for a parade of four other relievers who allowed one hit and no runs the rest of the way.

Despite this modicum of success, the Jays still lost ground on the Orioles and Yankees and sit 10 games out of first place. They will try to continue to climb out of the cellar playing seven home games this week.

There’s still hope for Toronto with Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzski expected to return from the DL today. And if things go well with pitcher Aaron Sanchez’s rehab from a cracked fingernail, he could return to the rotation this weekend.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Indians; 4 games vs. Mariners