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State of the AL East: Jays move to first place as Orioles fall back

The Blue Jays change up the wild card race by moving into first place. Boston struggles against the Yankees.


Toronto Blue Jays (67-51) 1st place

Record for the week: 4-2

It’s been a good week for the Jays. They won their two series and broke out of the number two position in the AL East to assume the first place spot, knocking aside the Baltimore Orioles. On Monday, they began their three game series against the ever-struggling Rays, during which they won two of the games. On Tuesday night, their biggest issues revolved around Marco Estrada, who allowed three runs and seven hits in just five innings, resulting in a 9-2 loss for Toronto. They bounced back on Wednesday to shut out the Rays 7-0, due to six scoreless innings courtesy of J.A. Happ, who became the first pitcher to reach 16 wins in 2016. Troy Tulowitzki also put in some work, impressively leading the offense, resulting in a season high of five runs and a three-run homer to fuel hope that his slump has passed. The second half of the week, the Jays took on the rookie-studded Astros line-up, and started off a bit rocky. They fell to Houston 5-3 on Friday, with the Astros’ young pitcher Joe Musgrove pitching seven innings for his first MLB win. Another Houston rookie, Teoscar Hernandez, hit his first big league homer. Undeterred, the Blue Jays came back for the last two games red hot, with Aaron Sanchez pitching beautifully on Saturday and Russell Martin producing a go-ahead, three run HR in the sixth. It wasn’t all good news this week, though, as the club recently put right fielder Jose Bautista on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee sprain. In the upcoming week, the Blue Jays will try to stave away the Orioles as the club takes on the Yankees and the Indians.

 

Baltimore Orioles (66-51) GB: 0.5

Record for the week: 3-4

Rough week for the O’s, as they lost a series to the Athletics and fell back to second place, throwing a twist into the wild card game. Lagging under the weight of their worst offensive drought this season, the Orioles saw too few hits off of three mediocre Oakland pitchers. The Athletics’ Ross Detwiler threw eight scoreless innings on Wednesday against the Birds, resulting in a 1-0 shutout loss for the Orioles and tossing them out of first place in the AL East, a position they’ve occupied for 109 days this season. Over their first three games against Oakland, the Orioles scored only three runs. Fortunately for Baltimore, Mark Trumbo’s five RBIs and grand slam off Daniel Coulombe pulled the team from their offensive slump and saved the Orioles from an ugly sweep. They went on to win a series against the Giants, with Jonathan Schoop completing a massive comeback effort with a ninth inning homer in the final game. Things looked dismal for the O’s, trailing by six runs in the seventh inning, until the team scored seven unanswered runs in the final innings. Though they’re only out of first place by half a game, the Orioles will need to seriously step it up to steal back their top position. On Tuesday, they’ll face the Red Sox again followed by the Astros beginning on Thursday.

 

Boston Red Sox (64-52) GB: 2.0

Record for the week: 5-2

A strong week for the Red Sox, but just not quite strong enough. They’ve improved half a game since we last discussed them, falling to the Yankees then quickly redeeming themselves with a three-game Diamondbacks sweep and a single game win against the Indians. Starting out strong against New York with Rick Porcello pitching eight solid innings and a strong offensive effort led by Andrew Benintendi, Sandy Leon, and Dustin Pedroia, the Yankees fell 5-3. But after that initial win, things went haywire for Boston. In Game 2, relievers Matt Barnes, Fernando Abad, Junichi Tazawa, and Robbie Ross, Jr. collectively blew a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning, as the Yankees strategically, intentionally walked David Ortiz twice, resulting in a 9-4 loss for the Sox. The final game was also a disaster as Benintendi lost a ball in the lights, three Yankees produced singles, and Hanley Ramirez became injured. Things turned up against Arizona, though, with the final game producing a massive 16-2 win for Boston, thanks to Mookie Betts who produced three home runs and eight RBIs to lead the Sox to their first double-digit victory in 23 games. They followed that victory with a nice little 3-2 win against the Indians. Now, they face a brutal turnaround this week, completing the 7pm finale of a two-game set against the Orioles on Wednesday, then flying to Detroit for a 1:10pm game against the Tigers the following day. In an effort to curb exhaustion, they requested a time change for their Thursday game, which the Tigers (who are 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the second wild card spot) denied. Stay strong, boys.

 

New York Yankees (60-57) GB: 6.5

Record for the week: 4-2

Strong week for the Yankees, as well, whooping the Boston Red Sox in the final two games of their series before besting the Rays in two games of a three-game series. A bittersweet week, though, for Yankees fans as the controversial Aaron Rodriguez made his final Red Sox vs. Yankees appearance, driving in a run with a dribbler in a bases-loaded situation, wrapping up a three-run surge in the eighth inning to secure a Yankees win. “It was a lot of fun to be out there,” A-Rod said, as reported by The Washington Times. “I’m glad that run came in and we won the game.” He played his final game for the club on Friday against the Rays, and is now set to become an advisor/instructor for the club. That Friday game resulted in a 3-6 victory for the Yankees, with Rodriguez doubling in his first at-bat off Chris Archer and returning to third base for one out in the ninth. New York also won the following Rays game in an 8-4 victory before falling 12-3 to the Rays in the final game, with Luis Severino falling disastrously short, allowing seven runs in less than four innings, which resulted in his demotion back to AAA ball. The Yankees were spared injury-wise this week, and will have to stay sharp against the Blue Jays and Angels in the upcoming week.

 

Tampa Bay Rays (47-69) GB: 19.0

Record for the week: 2-4

Another rough week for the Rays per usual, so I’m starting a new thing. I’m going to focus on the positive moments Tampa Bay experienced this past week, because highlighting their blunders would take far too long. On August 9, they bested the Blue Jays 9-2 on the road, and no one is more thrilled than Drew Smyly. The pitcher threw six innings to win consecutive decisions for the first time all season. Further, Logan Forsythe hit a solo homer to help in the win as well. The second positive moment for the Rays occurred against the Yankees, when Luis Severino just pitched so terribly that Tampa Bay really had no other choice but to win. This week, they play the Padres and the Rangers as the fade further into their devastating pool of losses. But for this week, good job, Drew.  

State of the AL East: Jays move to first place as Orioles fall back

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