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Around the AL East at the break: Orioles stay out of last place

The Orioles end five-game losing streak with two weekend wins, but are just one game out of last place and four games from wild card at season’s traditional halfway point.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

Maybe some prayers are being answered because the Orioles have now won four straight Sunday games. And thank heavens for that or the quickly collapsing 2017 season would be even worse than it is.

Surviving another Ubaldo Jimenez meltdown in the second inning yesterday as a 5-0 lead swiftly shrunk to 5-4, Adam Jones led the team to an 11-5 victory with two homers and five runs driven in.

The Orioles also played well Saturday in the Park but it must not have been the 4th of July – that was Tuesday, and the Orioles haven’t won on Independence Day since 2012. Jimenez and the Birds lost to the Brewers, 6-2, on the fourth en route to a three-game sweep in Milwaukee.

Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Twins was the Bird’s third Saturday victory among the last four. Now, if they could just win a few games during the week ...

It was great to see lone Oriole All-Star rep Jonathan Schoop keep a hot bat last week going into Tuesday’s mid-summer classic by hitting .310 with two home runs.

Last week: 2-5 (0-3 at Brewers; 2-2 at Twins)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Cubs

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox missed an opportunity to extend their division lead over the Yankees and Rays, dropping three of four to Tampa Bay while New York lost both of their series last week.

David Price pitched like a former Cy Young in Boston’s July 4th, 11-4 win over the Rangers. He hurled six scoreless innings and struck out nine in his best start of the season since returning from an elbow injury.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Yankees

New York Yankees

First place is getting smaller and smaller in the Yankees’ rear-view mirror as they downshift toward third place. Losers of 18 of their last 26 games, New York is now in a virtual tie for second place with Tampa Bay. Heck, even the Orioles have won 11 games in that span.

Things could be worse for the Yankees – they came close to being swept by the Brewers. But they won Saturday’s game by a red hair, thanks to a three-run, walk-off homer by the ginger-headed rookie Clint Frazier.

Last week: 2-4 (1-2 vs. Blue Jays; 1-2 vs. Brewers)

Week ahead: 3 games at Red Sox

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays finished the week taking three of four against the first-place Red Sox to move them into a virtual tie with the Yankees for second place. Put the reins on talks about trading Chris Archer and Alex Cobb; these Rays have a swimming chance to contend.

All-Star snub Logan Morrison felt super snubbed by not being asked to participate in MLB’s Home Run Derby in favor of Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez.

Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin quotes LoMo as saying, "Gary shouldn't be there. Gary's a great player, but he shouldn't be in the Home Run Derby … I remember when I had 14 home runs. That was a month and a half ago.''

Morrison also lost out in the fan vote to Mike Moustakas (no surprise given the Royals’ reputation as big-time ballot stuffers) for the final AL All-Star roster spot.

Morrison has shown prodigious power with 24 long-balls – tied for fourth in the AL – and has been a key part of the Rays’ success.

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

Week ahead: 3 games at Angels

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite being outscored by Houston, 37-17, Toronto managed a split in their four-game series that concluded yesterday. Hoping to end a miserable first-half of the season on a high note and take three of four from the AL’s best team, the Blue Jays seemed to forget to bring their bats and gloves.

Left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ gave up three home runs, seven hits, three walks and six runs (two earned) in just four innings to start the game. The bullpen didn’t stop the bleeding after that, allowing another 13 runs in an embarrassing 19-1 defeat.

On the other hand, righty starter Marcus Stroman improved to 9-5 with Saturday’s 7-2 win, allowing six hits and one run in seven innings against the dangerous Astros’ offense.

Last week: 4-3 (2-1 at Yankees; 2-2 vs. Astros)

Week ahead: 3 games at Tigers