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Around the AL East, Week 9: Orioles stop losing, keep pace with leaders

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The third-place Orioles temporarily pass Boston before dropping two over the weekend, but still came away with a winning week.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles kept pace with the Yankees and Red Sox while maintaining just one lost home series for the season. Before faltering over the weekend, they won four of the first five games of the week ensuring at least a split with Boston.

They broke their seven-game losing streak with Monday’s victory against New York, helping to take two of three and gain ground on the Yankees.

Two of those wins featured terrific starts against Boston from the team’s number four and five starters – Wade Miley and Alec Asher. Miley continued to feast on home cooking by pitching one-run, five-hit ball for seven innings in a 7-5 Oriole win and lowering his OPaCY ERA to 1.01.

Earning his first home win of the year, Miley only struck out three, but he gave up just one walk – an improvement on an area of concern. Over his first eight starts, he allowed about five base on balls per nine innings. He has given up just five free passes in his last three starts, covering 19 innings.

And Alec Asher’s Friday night start was huge, outshining Cy Young award-winner Rick Porcello in a 3-2 win. Asher twirled a 6.1 IP, two-run, no walk, 5K beauty, rewarding – at least temporarily – the decision to replace Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation.

This week’s schedule features a rainout makeup game in D.C. against the Nationals before traveling to the Big Apple for another vital match-up against the Yanks.

Two birds fall but always treasured

Orioles’ minor-league infielder, Robert Andino, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines. I forgive him. I will always forgive him thanks to his two-out, sinking line drive, RBI single to left field on the last pitch of the last game of the 2011 season.

What a sweet Orioles 4-3 walk-off win that denied the elitist Red Sox from making the post-season. Fondly known as the Curse of the Andino, that play ranks in my top five moments of all-time at Camden Yards and marks the start of the franchise’s turnaround under Buck Showalter.

And don’t forget who dashed around third to score that winning run – Nolan Reimold who tied the game in the previous at-bat with an RBI ground rule double. Reimold retired from baseball last week, hanging up his spikes for good with the independent league Long Island Ducks. Thanks for the memory.

Last week: 4-3 (2-1 vs. Yankees; 2-2 vs. Red Sox)

Week ahead: 2 games vs. Pirates; 1 game at Nationals; 3 games at Yankees

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox rebounded well against the Birds to win the last two games of their four-game series in Baltimore. It helps when you can throw two elite starting pitchers, back-to-back.

Great Sale at a good Price

Or good Sale at a great Price; either works. David Price’s return from the DL has featured a 96 mph fastball, quelling concerns about his mended elbow. His seven-inning, five-hit, one-run victory Saturday lowered his WHIP to 0.667 and his ERA to 3.00 for his first two starts of the season.

Chris Sale settled down after giving up three runs in the first inning in yesterday’s finale and allowed just three more hits and no runs through six innings of work while striking out nine. He’s now 7-2 and has won six straight decisions in his last seven outings.

Last week: 4-3 (2-1 at White Sox; 2-2 at Orioles)

Week ahead: 3 games at Yankees; 3 games vs. Tigers

New York Yankees

The Yankees saw their division lead shrink as the Red Sox moved to within two games of the frontrunners. Concerns about pitcher Masahiro Tanaka re-surfaced after another dismal performance in the rubber game of the Orioles series in Baltimore.

The 10-4 loss was his fourth in his last four appearances, a span that’s resulted in an 11.21 ERA and 1.184 opposing OPS. He gave up eight home runs in 17.2 innings pitched during that stretch bringing his season total to 14 – an average of more than two per nine innings.

Brett’s flexing

Brett Gardner’s power surge continued as he slugged three more dingers this past week increasing his season total to 12. His hot streak has included going yard nine times in 22 games, and puts him on a pace for 35 for the year. His previous high of 17 came in 2014.

Last week: 3-4 (1-2 at Orioles; 2-2 at Blue Jays)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Red Sox; 3 games vs. Orioles

Tampa Bay Rays

As soon as it looks like the Rays are about to make a move, they fall back to mediocrity. After taking two of three from Texas, they became sleepless in Seattle and got swept by the Mariners.

Win some, lose some

After Saturday’s 9-2 loss, Tampa Bay’s record was at .500 – again! The 29-29 mark was the 17th time Tampa Bay’s record was even.

Mo-Lo-Mo

First baseman Logan Morrison is just seven homers away from his season-high of 23, earned way back in 2011. He hit his 16th on Saturday. Despite just a .243 batting average, his .347 OBP and 37 RBIs are helping the Rays’ stay in the hunt.

Last week: 2-4 (2-1 Rangers; 0-3 at Mariners)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. White Sox; 4 games vs. Athletics

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays reminded the AL East that they are far from finished in 2017, as they continue to bounce back from their extremely bumpy start. Winning 18 of their past 27 games, Toronto is now just one game under .500 and 5.5 games out of first place, after sweeping the Reds and splitting with New York last week.

Elite closer Osuna than later

One reason for the Jays’ resurgence has been the closing ability of 22-year-old Roberto Osuna. He sealed the series split against the Yankees in yesterday’s 3-2 win by striking out Aaron Judge, Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro in a one-two-three ninth and earned his 13th save.

He’s only walked two batters all year, striking out an impressive 29 in 22.2 IP. His WHIP is now a tiny 0.84.

Last week: 5-2 (3-0 vs. Reds; 2-2 vs. Yankees)

Week ahead: 3 games at Athletics; 3 games vs. Mariners