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Around the AL East, Week 19: Orioles fail to get above .500, again

The Orioles start critical West Coast road trip losing four of seven and now have five teams ahead of them for the second wild card spot.

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles

As the season turns toward the stretch run, the Orioles sputtered in two series against the Angels and Athletics during their first visit to the West Coast. Newly acquired Jeremy Hellickson pitched his first poor game in three starts in yesterday’s 9-3 defeat to Oakland, allowing six earned runs in five innings.

The loss was the Birds’ first on a Sunday since July 16 and concluded a split with the A’s in their four-game series. The Orioles are somehow still in the midst of the wild card race at 2.5 games back, but are now chasing five teams for the final spot.

Perhaps the most difficult of last week’s losses was on Tuesday when Hellickson faced ex-Oriole Parker Bridwell. The Angels starter, who was obtained from the Orioles earlier this season for cash only, won 3-2 and is now 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings.

Last week: 3-4 (1-2 at Angels; 2-2 at Athletics)

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

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox extended their first-place lead in the AL East to 5.5 games. They won eight straight before losing to the Yankees Friday night 5-4. But they pulled their stockings right back up the next day, destroying the Yanks’ best pitcher, Luis Severino, scoring 10 runs (eight earned) off of him in just 4.1 innings.

Rookie Andrew Benintendi hit two three-run homers off of Severino in the 10-5 victory. Through Saturday, Benintendi’s is hitting .280 with 16 long-balls and 14 steals.

Last week: 4-1 (2-0 at Rays; 2-1 at Yankees)

Week ahead: 1 game vs. Indians; 2 games vs. Cardinals; 3 games vs. Yankees

New York Yankees

After the flurry of trades that had the national media announce the Yankees as the team to beat in the AL East, they have struggled to win or stay healthy. Pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia were both added to the disabled list, giving Jordan Montgomery a reprieve from being ousted from the rotation.

That still leaves them one starter short and increased their reliance on ace Luis Severino. But his six-start unbeaten streak ended on Saturday in ugly fashion when he allowed 10 runs in 4.1 innings in a big loss to the Red Sox.

Montgomery pitched well in last night’s series finale, but Aroldis Chapman blew the save and New York lost 3-2 in ten innings. The loss dropped the Yankees to 5.5 games back of Boston for first place.

Last week: 2-4 (1-2 at Blue Jays; 1-2 vs. Red Sox)

Week ahead: 2 games vs. Mets; 2 games at Mets; 3 games at Red Sox

Tampa Bay Rays

Maybe the Rays wished they still had Tim Beckham’s bat in their lineup. They have been shutout an incredible five times in their last nine games – a stretch when they have scored just 11 runs.

After losing three of four to the Indians over the weekend, the Rays dropped to nine back of first but just two back of the second wild card.

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

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

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays offense is heating up, but they still can’t get out of the AL East cellar. First baseman Justin Smoak continued his breakout season slugging home run number 32 in yesterday's 7-1 victory over the Pirates. Smoak is hitting an impressive .299/.375/.586 on the year.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is out for the year with a severe ankle injury but is expected to be ready for spring training.

Last week: 4-2 (2-1 vs. Yankees; 2-1 vs. Pirates)

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