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Around the AL East, Week 15: Orioles head right back into last place

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Orioles’ crucial ten-game home stand begins with a crushing sweep to the Cubs, dropping them nine games back in the division and six behind the last wild-card slot. The Rays take sole possession of second place.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

So much for the Orioles hungrily beginning the second half of the season. They looked more like a bloated uncle after Thanksgiving dinner losing three straight to the Cubs and getting outscored 27-10. It’s hard to imagine a worse start than Friday’s flub with super-bust Kevin Gausman pitching horribly again and putting his team in an 8-0 hole by third inning.

The only saving grace of the weekend – and it’s not much of a save or very graceful – is that the offense chipped away at the lead until Mark Trumbo hit a dramatic game-tying home run in the eighth inning. But it turned out to be a Trumbo tease as Brad Brach gave up a game winning long-ball to Addison Russell in the ninth.

Unless the Orioles win five or six of the their next seven games to conclude their home stand, the bullpen will likely start to look a lot different. Ken Rosenthal reported that the Orioles are willing to trade Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day, but not Mychal Givens.

If true, at least Brach and Britton could be gone before the July 31 trade deadline. O’Day’s value is limited since he is still owed $18 million the next two years and hasn’t been the pitcher the Orioles expected him to be when they signed him to a four-year, $31 million deal before the 2016 season.

Last week: 0-3 vs. Cubs

Week ahead: 4 games vs. Rangers; 3 games vs. Astros

Boston Red Sox

The Panda watch is coming to a thankful conclusion as Boston’s worst-ever free agent signing, Pablo Sandoval, has been designated for assignment. Perhaps the perfect example of an over-hyped Red Sox player performing more to his capabilities than the media-induced and elitist New England-driven fantasies, Sandoval exits Boston owed another $49.5 million from the team.

Rick Porcello, the 2016 American League Cy Young award winner, continues to struggle in 2017. Despite scattering nine hits over six innings and giving up no walks and just one earned run in yesterday’s first game against the Yankees, Porcello lost 3-0. His record dropped to 4-12 to go with a 4.60 ERA.

Last week: 2-2 vs. Yankees

Week ahead: 4 games vs. Blue Jays; 3 games at Angels

New York Yankees

The Yankees dropped to third place, a half-game behind the Rays, after losing the nightcap of yesterday’s twin bill against the division-leading Red Sox.

But another Yankees’ story is one that you won’t read much about because of the media’s New York bias and its love of the radar gun. Simply put, naming Yankee reliever Dellin Betances to the All-Star team was a joke.

We are all well aware of the 6’8” setup man’s ability to throw his fastball 100 MPH, but he only pitched 28.2 innings and had a far-from-stellar 3.18 ERA the first half of the year. He did strike out an impressive 53 batters, but he also walked 26 and his OBP allowed was .333.

Betances came close to costing the AL squad too when he loaded the bases on a hit and two walks in the third inning, before getting Daniel Murphy to ground out to third to keep the game scoreless.

The following relievers were all more deserving of the All-Star honor than Betances but, apparently, had the wrong name on the front of their jerseys:

Chris Devenski – 52.2 IP; 14 BB; 74 K; 2.73 ERA

Roberto Osuna – 35 IP; 3 BB; 47 K 2.06 ERA

Tommy Kahnle – 34 IP; 7 BB; 57 K; 2.65 ERA

Blake Parker – 38.1 IP; 10 BB; 54 K; 2.58 ERA

Devenski and Osuna were later named as All-Stars to replace pitchers who weren’t able to participate in the game.

Last week: 2-2 at Red Sox

Week ahead: 3 games at Twins; 4 games at Mariners

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays started the second half right where they ended the first – hot. Their rotation helped them take two of three from the Angels as Jacob Faria, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer pitched a combined 20.1 IP while giving up just 16 hits and five earned runs.

With Jake Odorizzi and Blake Snell rounding out the starting staff and Matt Andriese hoping to return from the DL in August, Tampa Bay’s arms should keep them in most games and in the playoff hunt.

Last week: 2-1 at Angels

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

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite losing two out of three games in Detroit over the weekend, the Jays took their first step exiting their season-long position in the AL East cellar. Thanks to the Orioles pathetic performance getting swept by the Cubs, the Jays now share their last-place nest with the Orioles.

Toronto had a chance to move into fourth place all by themselves, leading yesterday’s game in the eighth inning until the TigersJ.D. Martinez hit a solo shot to tie the game. The Jays lost it the 11th inning on an anti-climactic bases loaded walk-off walk by Miguel Cabrera.

Last week: 1-2 at Tigers

Week ahead: 4 games at Red Sox; 3 games at Indians