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Around the AL East, Week 10: Orioles fall to fourth place after sweep in New York

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Orioles start week with come-from-behind thrillers but end it with bow-your-head losses. Yankees take a four-game division lead. 

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

Imagine how bad a week it could have been if the Orioles didn’t have two miraculous comeback wins against the Pirates. But those games seem like a lifetime ago after the Birds slept through their rainout makeup game in D.C. before getting bludgeoned in the Bronx. The weekend’s football-like scores of 16-3 and 14-3 were humiliating.

What’s worse is that the Orioles’ slide has been going on for a while. Their pitching and depth flaws have been exposed like Lady Godiva, and opposing hitters are enjoying the view.

The Birds have now lost 20 of 29 games. That 22-10 start was so nice while it lasted.

Manny Machado has now missed four consecutive games thanks to a day-to-day wrist injury caused by Andrew McCutchen’s high-spiked slide. The irony is thick here. How much would Red Sox Manager John Farrell freak out if that happened to his third baseman? Oh yeah, maybe not that much. That’s Pablo Sandoval (see below).

Last week: 2-4 (2-0 vs. Pirates; 0-1 at Nationals; 0-3 at Yankees)

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

Boston Red Sox

Boston’s 3-3 week keeps them in second place but the Sox fall four games behind the Yankees.

Their hole at third base is widening like a mouth preparing for a root canal, and the bloated contract given to Pablo Sandoval continues to cause the Red Sox pain. Despite his off-season weight loss, Panda still has a disorder at the plate – more of a hitting one than an eating one though. He’s now hitting just .205 with a .616 OPS.

But his defense is also killing any chance he has to contribute. John Farrell hesitates to play Sandoval at third base when a southpaw is pitching because those right-handed hitters just might hit some ground balls and line drives down there. An actual bear would have a better chance at fielding them successfully.

The Red Sox only owe another $41 million to Sandoval through the 2019 season. That’s after paying off the balance of the $17 million he’s making this year. Suckers!

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

Week ahead: 2 games vs. Phillies; 2 games at Phillies; 3 games at Astros

New York Yankees

Despite the meltdown of Yankee’s former ace Masahiro Tanaka, nobody cares because the Yankees continue to look strong taking a four-game lead in the AL East. Of course, no team has ever looked stronger than New York did beating up the Orioles, scoring 30 runs in the last two games of their three-game sweep.

Maybe this week’s change of time zone will slow the Yankees down on their west coast trip to LA and Oaktown.

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

Week ahead: 3 games at Angels; 4 games at Athletics

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays’ won both home series last week, moving them ahead of the Orioles into third place. Outfielder Mallex Smith made quite an impression replacing Kevin Kiermaier as Tampa Bay’s centerfielder after he fractured his right hip. The 24-year-old speedster acquired from the Braves over the offseason went 8-for-14 with a homer and four steals.

Last week: 5-2 (2-1 vs. White Sox; 3-1 vs. Athletics)

Week ahead: 2 games at Blue Jays; 4 games at Tigers

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays continue to try to scratch their way out of the AL East cellar for the first time this year. And the Orioles’ nosedive helps put Toronto just a game out of fourth place.

J.A. Happ won his first game of the season yesterday in his third start since returning from the disabled list, pitching six solid shutout innings. His 8K, 1BB appearance is what the Jays have been longing to see from Happ after his 20-4 season last year.

Last week: 3-3 (1-2 at Athletics; 2-1 at Mariners)

Week ahead: 2 games vs. Rays; 3 games vs. White Sox