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Around the AL East, Week 18: New acquisitions keep Orioles in wild card hunt

Orioles are just 2.5 games from the wild card as new Birds Tim Beckham and Jeremy Hellickson make key contributions. Boston’s six straight wins give them some breathing room at the top    

Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles

Given the amount of grief Dan Duquette received for the Orioles’ decisions to buy at the trade deadline, he’s got to be wearing an ear-to-ear grin watching Tim Beckham and Jeremy Hellickson in their first week wearing the black and orange.

Beckham’s performance thus far is making him a poster child for what a change of scenery can do for a baseball player. Tampa Bay traded him to a division rival for an 18-year-old arm because they saw it as addition by subtraction.

I guess that works both ways because the former first pick of the draft roared onto the Baltimore scene with an “I’ll show you” mentality, resulting in a .583 average, three homers, two doubles, a triple and six RBIs in his first six games. He’s slugging .917 for crying out loud!

Some reported that Hellickson, a free agent at the end of the season, was obtained from the Phillies primarily to be an arm to aid a struggling rotation. Dylan Bundy has been tiring of late and the team didn't want to overextend him.

While that’s one benefit of adding Hellickson, the Orioles also hope what they saw in his first appearance is a sign that the 30-year-old can contribute to the team’s playoff chase. Hellickson pitched seven shutout innings in his Oriole debut – a 6-0 victory over the Royals – allowing just three hits and one walk.

Last week: 5-2 (3-0 vs. Royals; 2-2 vs. Tigers)

Week ahead: 3 games at Angels; 4 games at Athletics

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox took advantage of some home cooking by sweeping the Indians and the White Sox and extending their winning streak to six games. Filling in for injured David Price, Doug Fister won both of his starts last week by giving up just five runs in 13.2 innings.

New additions Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers did their part to spark Boston’s offense. The rookie Devers is hitting .349 since being brought up from the minors, and Nunez is stroking an even .400 with four homers in just 40 at-bats since coming over to the Red Sox from San Francisco. Both have helped Boston take a three-game division lead over the Yankees.

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

Week ahead: 2 games at Rays; 3 games at Yankees

New York Yankees

While new acquisitions Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia failed to impress in their first starts in pinstripes, Luis Severino continued to prove that he is one of the best starting pitchers in the league.

Gray and Garcia combined to give up nine runs in 10.2 innings in two defeats to the Indians. But Severino earned a series split and won his fourth start in a row yesterday, giving up just two hits and a run while striking out nine in 6.2 innings. He his now 9-4 with a 2.91 ERA.

The Yankees’ 3-4 week coupled with Boston’s winning streak drops New York to three games back of the Red Sox, but they maintain a 2.5 game lead for a wild card spot.

Last week: 3-4 (1-2 vs. Tigers; 2-2 at Indians)

Week ahead: 3 games at Blue Jays; 3 games vs. Red Sox

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays made a move last week winning three of four from the tough but slightly fading Astros. After losing a slugfest, 14-7, in the first game, the Rays’ solid pitching staff allowed just seven runs in the next three. But, has been the case all year, the Rays couldn’t sustain a long winning stretch and followed the Houston series by losing two of three to the Brewers.

Pitcher Chris Archer did his part to avoid a sweep to Milwaukee, giving up just one run in six innings yesterday and allowing the Rays’ Steven Souza the chance to win the game with a walk-off homer in the ninth. The former National outfielder is having a terrific year, launching 24 long-balls while batting .269/.371/.517.

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

Week ahead: 2 games vs. Red Sox; 4 games vs. Indians

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays’ disappointing season hit a new low yesterday when they lost a three-run ninth inning lead to drop the rubber game against the Astros. Closer Roberto Osuna blew his third save in his last five tries, giving up four runs and five hits in just 0.2 innings. During this stretch, Osuna has seen his ERA rise from 1.91 to 3.47.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Yankees; 3 games vs. Pirates