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Around the AL East, Week 13: Kevin Gausman gives Orioles hope

Boston’s 6-1 week puts them three games in front of second-place Yankees. The Orioles, on the other hand, are holding 6.5 games back.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

As bad as the Orioles starting pitching has been – last in the AL in ERA and WHIP – Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez pitched gems and shined up an otherwise frustrating week.

Gausman won two games, pitching 5.1 scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays and seven more yesterday versus the Rays in a 7-1 win. His scoreless innings streak is now up to 13.2.

Since the start of the 2017 season, the Orioles’ success has largely hinged on Gausman’s performance. With Tillman coming off of a shoulder injury and Dylan Bundy progressing but not yet established as a bona fide starter, Gausman was the key to the rotation with a chance to become a true top-of-the-rotation starter.

With Tillman struggling all year and Bundy recently pitching more like Al than Dylan, Gausman’s success is more than ever connected to any chance the Birds have to contend this year. His recent improvement gives the Orioles hope.

Last week: 3-3 (2-1 at Blue Jays; 1-2 vs. Rays)

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

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox extended their AL East lead to three games over the Yankees with four straight wins to complete the week. However, keep an eye on shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ right groin injury that kept him out of yesterday’s game.

With second baseman Dustin Pedroia still nursing a banged up left knee and the team’s gaping hole at third base, Boston’s offense may not be in shape to hold or increase their division lead.

Last week: 6-1 (3-1 vs. Twins; 3-0 at Blue Jays)

Week ahead: 3 games at Rangers; 4 games at Rays

New York Yankees

The Yankees are dealing with a slew of recent injuries, allowing for a look at some more of their highly regarded prospects. Second baseman Starlin Castro suffered a strained right hamstring, giving a chance for Tyler Wade.

And uber-prospect Clint Frazier, acquired last year from Cleveland in the Adam Miller trade, has been recalled due to injuries to Matt Holliday and Dustin Fowler. He made a good first impression, doubling and hitting a home run in his first game Saturday.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Blue Jays; 3 games vs. Brewers

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay continued their amazing run at mediocrity with another 3-3 week to keep their record close to .500 at 43-41. The Rays maintain a 1.5 game lead over the fourth-place Orioles.

Catcher Wilson Ramos, fresh off a season-long DL stint, hit a three-run homer in Saturday’s victory over the Birds. The Rays are relying on Ramos to make an impact with the bat in his first season in Tampa.

Last week: 3-3 (1-2 at Pirates; 2-1 at Orioles)

Week ahead: 2 games at Cubs; 4 games vs. Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays

The Joe Biagini experiment as a starter is likely coming to a mercifully awaited end. After a strong debut as Aaron Sanchez’s replacement when he headed to the DL in May, Biagini has pitched to a 6.06 ERA in his last five starts, capped off with a 5.1 IP/7 ER/10 H/2 HR debacle against the Red Sox yesterday.

Sanchez has had a Helter Skelter season with blisters on his finger limiting him to just five games this season. He is expected to rejoin the rotation this week.

The Jays’ three-game sweep to Boston at home drops them 9.5 games out of first place and puts them one step closer to being sellers in 2017.

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

Week ahead: 3 games at Yankees; 4 games vs. Astros