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Photo Credit: © Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Around The League: Divisional Rivals Letting The Jays Survive

The AL Beast? More like the AL LEAST. Get it? Because nobody in this division seems to want to run away with this thing? Despite having a forgettable 3-4 week, the Jays actually managed to gain a half game in the division as everybody else spun their tires all week.

American League East

New York Yankees 40-33 (0 GB) +95 run differential 

I guess this is why they call it West Coast best Coast. The Yankees continued their implosion last week, going 2-4 against the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers. The week before, the Yankees got destroyed on the West Coast, dropping six games in a row to Oakland and the Angels. All in all? New York played 13 games against AL West opponents over the past two weeks and only managed three wins.

Their struggles have been the result of mediocre starting pitching, some bullpen implosions, and an offence that isn’t firing at the same level as before. Tyler Clippard had himself a hell of a week, getting drilled for eight earned runs over three appearances. Michael Pineda had a rough outing against Texas and Luis Severino was lit up by the Angels. But on a positive note, Masahiro Tanka had likely his best start of the season, dominating the Rangers for just three hits over eight innings.

Over that two week AL West stretch, the Yankees saw their record go from 38-23 to 40-33, and their lead in the division slip by four games.

Boston Red Sox 41-34 (0 GB) +30 run differential 

Thankfully for the Yankees, the Red Sox didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Like New York, Boston went 2-4 this week, dropping a series on the road to the weirdly red hot Royals and one at home to the Angels.

Two of their losses came from bullpen meltdowns, but overall, Boston’s poor week was the result of a stagnant offence. Jason Hammel and Parker Bridwell held them to two runs, and J.C. Ramirez held them to just one. A cold offence has kind of been the theme of the Red Sox season this year. Despite boasting a lineup that really should be a strength, the Sox are averaging just 4.67 runs per game, which is slightly below league average. It seems the loss of David Ortiz has really hurt the Red Sox, as they’re last in the AL in home runs with 75 and 13th in slugging percentage. Maybe, uh, take this thing down and make him play again? Or don’t? I think anybody else in the division is happy to not watch him crush baseballs anymore.

Tampa Bay Rays 40-38 (2.5 GB) +21 run differential 

The Tampa Bay Rays Rollercoaster went up and down a few times this week. They ultimately went 3-3, winning a series against the Red and dropping one to the O’s. This team just hasn’t been able to get on any kind of a run. Their run differential suggests they should be better than two games over .500, but a mediocre pitching rotation and a disastrous bullpen has this team tripping over itself. They’re almost like the Diet 2015 Blue Jays.

This week, the starting pitching was fine. It was the bullpen that let the team down. Jose Alvarado, Alex Colome, and Jumbo Diaz combined to allow 14 runs while recording 17 outs in relief. That’s, uh, not going to get the job done. Both games the Rays lost to the Orioles were winnable, but the ‘pen came in and threw them away. Like I said, that’s been a theme with the Rays this season. There haven’t been many instances in which the Rays have had pitching firing at the same level as their offence.

But hey, say hello to the newest old friend who will be inexplicably good against the Jays while wearing a Rays uniform!

Baltimore Orioles 37-38 (4 GB) -65 run differential 

The Orioles had a 3-4 week, but managed to snap a legendary streak of futility. For 20 straight games, Orioles pitching allowed at least five runs. That tied a 93-year-old record. And that isn’t a good thing. That streak ended in Tampa Bay, as Dylan Bundy managed to get his shit together and toss seven innings of three-run ball.

That doesn’t mean the O’s starting rotation isn’t still a dumpster fire, or anything. Over the week, Baltimore starters combined to allow 34 runs over 32 2/3 innings. Bundy was good against Tampa, but got hammered by Cleveland. Chris Tillman was bad twice, failing to get out of the fifth inning in both starts. Ubaldo Jimenez is, well, you know. And while Kevin Gausman has improved, Wade Miley has very quickly fallen back down to earth.

Toronto Blue Jays 36-39 (5 GB) -22 run differential 

The Jays had an up and down week. They won an beautiful come-from-behind game against the Rangers, got thwomped the next day trying to reach .500, did that whole thing over again the next two days, then lost an absolute heartbreaker in Kansas City. All told, they went 3-4 for the week, which is pretty disappointing considering how winnable the games were. Despite the mediocre week, the Jays gained a half game in the division standings.

Their next 10 games will be against Baltimore, Boston, and New York, so we’ll see what this team is made of.

The Wild Card

New York Yankees 40-33 (+1.5 GU)

Boston Red Sox 41-34 (+1.5 GU)

Cleveland 39-35  (0 GB)

– – –

Tampa Bay Rays 40-38 (1.0 GB)

Texas Rangers 38-37 (1.5 GB)

Los Angeles Angels 40-39 (1.5 GB)

Seattle Mariners 39-39 (2.0 GB)

Kansas City Royals 37-37 (2.0 GB)

Baltimore Orioles 37-38 (2.5 GB)

Toronto Blue Jays 36-39 (3.5 GB)

Oakland Athletics 34-42 (6.0 GB)

Detroit Tigers 33-42 (6.5 GB)

Chicago White Sox 32-42 (7.0 GB)

While the Jays didn’t lose any ground in the division, they had a decent slide in the Wild Card race. Last week, they were only two games back of the second Wild Card seed, but now they’re down to 3.5 games out. It isn’t an insurmountable hill by any stretch, but it’s frustrating that the Jays lost winnable games to Texas and Kansas City, two teams they’ll likely have to jump if they’re going to make the playoffs.

Elsewhere…

The Los Angeles Dodgers. They’re very good. They swept the Rockies, who are also quite good, last weekend, becoming the first team in the National League to hit 50 wins this season. A big reason for their success is this rookie Cody Bellinger who has 24 (!!!) home runs in 57 games. Over a 162-game pace, that’s 68 home runs. Aaron Judge who? My lord. Speaking of the NL West, the San Fransisco Giants are worse than you probably thought they were. Did you know that they became the first team to lose 50 games last weekend? They’re 27-51 right now, 24.5 games back of L.A., and are even worse than the San Diego Padres.

Sticking with the Dodgers for a second, Yasmani Grandal struck out, but during his at bat all three runners on base scored. His at bat went like this…

  1. Ball, wild pitch scores Justin Turner.
  2. Ball.
  3. Called strike.
  4. Called strike.
  5. Ball, wild pitch scores Austin Barnes and Logan Forsythe.
  6. Swinging strike.