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Around the AL East, Week 11: Orioles hang on to fourth place

The Orioles bats come alive in return from road trip. A Yankees losing streak tightens up the division.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

After losing another series against the White Sox to start the week, the Orioles’ ray of hope was a return to Camden Yards. Coming home from a painful 1-7 road trip where they were outscored by 42 runs, they needed to continue their winning ways at home with St. Louis coming to town. Thankfully, they did.

The Orioles live and die by the long ball, and they were on life support before Saturday’s game. But the friendly confines of cozy Camden Yards helped the Birds bang out nine homers and score 23 runs over the weekend to win the final two games to take the series.

They may need to continue this kind of offensive punch to counter the woeful pitching that is still punishing this team - despite the return of the good Ubaldo yesterday. He rejoined the rotation to pitch seven strong innings, allowing four hits and two runs. Jimenez did, however, walk four and give up two home runs.

Even with three wins last week, the Orioles kept their streak alive of continuous games allowing five runs or more – now up to 15. Ouch.

Buck Showalter described the status of J.J. Hardy as “not good” after the shortstop was hit in the wrist by a pitch in yesterday’s game. Despite Hardy’s struggles at the dish this year, his solid presence at the six hole will be missed if he’s out for a substantial period of time.

Last week: 3-4 (1-3 at White Sox; 2-1 vs. Cardinals)

Week ahead: 4 games vs. Indians; 3 games at Rays

Boston Red Sox

The Yankees’ slide has allowed Boston to inch closer to the top of the division. The Red Sox are now just percentage points behind the first-place Yankees after beating up the lowly Phillies and taking two of three from the Astros.

Leading the way is Mookie Betts. His big week featured a .387 batting average, three home runs, and four more doubles adding to his league lead.

Last week: 5-2 (2-0 vs. Phillies; 1-1 at Phillies; 2-1 at Astros)

Week ahead: 3 games at Royals; 3 games vs. Angels

New York Yankees

Don’t fly the division championship flag just yet. The Yankees finished a difficult week by getting swept in four games in Oakland and extending their six-game losing streak.

Hot pitchers Luis Severino and Michael Pineda each cooled off with tepid performances. Pineda gave up five runs in six innings. Severino allowed four in six with four walks.

They will need to rebound and anchor the rotation to help snap the Yankees’ slide, but won’t have C.C. Sabathia to help. He injured his hamstring Tuesday putting him on the DL. Sabathia is 7-2 with a 3.46 ERA.

Last week: 1-6 (1-2 at Angels; 0-4 at Athletics)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Angels; 3 games vs. Rangers

Tampa Bay Rays

This is getting ridiculous. Logan Morrison hit two more home runs yesterday raising his season total to 21. He has a .925 OPS, compared to .741 for his career coming into this season. He’s hitting home runs at a pace that’s more than double his career rate per plate appearance (0.77 to 0.31).

More important to Tampa Bay is that Morrison helped lead them to a 9-1 victory over Detroit to secure a series split. The Rays’ 3-3 week continues their even-Steven year. Currently 37-35, the Rays haven’t been above or below .500 by more than three games all season.

Last week: 3-3 (1-1 at Blue Jays; 2-2 at Tigers)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Reds; 3 games vs. Orioles

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays failed to gain ground in their short five-game week, splitting with the Rays before dropping two of three at home against the White Sox.

Ex-O Steve Pearce returned from the disabled list by going yard Friday night. Late bloomer Justin Smoak also homered for the 19th time.

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

Week ahead: 4 games at Rangers; 3 games Royals)