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Around the AL East, Week 22: A crucial Orioles-Yankees series awaits

Dylan Bundy spins a gem and Manny Machado earns player of the month recognition. 

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Baltimore Orioles Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles completed August with a 17-12 record that helped to put them back in the thick of the wild card race. Leading the way was Manny Machado on his way to being named the A.L. Player of the Month batting .341/.348/.690 and tying Gary Sanchez and Josh Donaldson with the most home runs with 12.

Tied with the Angels, 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot, the Orioles have a huge opportunity to tighten the race even further this week with a home series versus the Yankees. New York currently holds the top wild card spot, 3.5 games in front of the Birds.

Dylan Bundy’s one-hit, complete game shutout against the Mariners Tuesday was as impressive as it gets. If the Orioles somehow make it to the wild card game with Bundy on the mound, their chances to advance would be strong no matter what team or pitcher they face.

Last week: 5-2 (3-0 vs. Mariners; 2-2 vs. Blue Jays)

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Yankees; 3 games at Indians

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox lost three of four games to the Yankees to wrap up the week and are now just 3.5 games in front of New York for the division lead. Chris Sale pitched his second clunker in his last three appearances losing 9-2 last night, going just 4.1 innings and giving up three earned runs and seven hits. Two starts before, he allowed six earned runs and seven hits in three innings of work against Cleveland.

Infielder Eduardo Nunez continued to prove his worth for Boston filling in all over the infield and producing at the plate. Since coming over from the Giants, Nunez has hit .303 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games.

Last week: 4-3 (3-0 at Blue Jays; 1-3 at Yankees)

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

New York Yankees

Luis Severino is performing as the true ace of the Yankees’ rotation with another stellar performance last night defeating the division-leading Red Sox. He allowed just two hits and no earned runs, while striking out nine and walking none over six innings. He’s given up just four earned runs in his last four starts covering 25.2 innings.

Last week: 3-4 (0-3 vs. Indians; 3-1 vs. Red Sox)

Week ahead: 3 games at Orioles; 3 games at Rangers

Tampa Bay Rays

The mediocre Rays completed another 3-3 week and remain two games below .500 for the year. Pitcher Matt Andriese’s long-awaited return from the disabled list didn’t go well against the White Sox yesterday. He gave up five runs in five innings in the Rays’ 6-2 loss.

But Tampa Bay is still hanging on as one of many vying for an A.L. wild card spot, now four games behind.

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

Week ahead: 3 games vs. Twins; 3 games at Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays

Despite the efforts of third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays seem destined to end the year where they began it – in last place. Donaldson’s .944 OPS since the All-Star break through Saturday’s game hasn’t been enough to overcome injuries to key players like Troy Tulowitzki, Aaron Sanchez, Russell Martin and Devon Travis.

The Jays will have to wait till next year and hope to play spoilers down the stretch in 2017.

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

Week ahead: 3 games at Red Sox; 3 games vs. Tigers