The American League East: a shell of it’s former self. The home to former powerhouses such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and resistant Tampa Bay Rays, now has a new identity with the always unpredictable Baltimore Orioles and always lurking Toronto Blue Jays.
In a weekly basis format for the rest of the season, I will take a look at the Orioles’ division rivals and how they fair in their weekly matches with a look ahead to what they face.
Boston Red Sox: 4-2, tied for 1st Place
The Boston Red Sox started off the season with probably the most lopsided win against the Phillies; 8-0. This game featured home runs from Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez also had a grand slam in his Boston debut. There was only one downside and that was Pablo Sandoval going 0-5 with 3 strikeouts in his Boston debut. The Sox ended up taking the series two out of three from Philadelphia with wins going to Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson.
In the loss against Philadelphia, Rick Porcello took the loss in his Boston debut despite going six innings and allowing only three runs, allowing for him to still get a quality start. Next up for them would be the New York Yankees for a three game series, which already featured the weirdest game of the season.
On April 10, the Red Sox won 6-5, but it was no easy task. While having a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th, Chase Headley hit a home run off Edward Mujica to tie the game at three, sending it to extra innings. In the top of the 16th, David Ortiz homered off Esmil Rogers to make it 4-3 Boston. Mark Teixeira would follow in the bottom of the inning with his own home run to tie the game up again at four. In the top of the 18th, new Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit an RBI single to make it 5-4, only to be followed by a Carlos Beltran double in the bottom of the inning to tie it up at five. To the 19th inning, Mookie Betts hit a sacrifice fly to score Xander Boegarts, giving the Sox a 6-5 lead and having that be the final lead in the game. This game was definitely a test of both team’s toughness and willingness early in the season. The Sox would go on to finish the series two out of three, losing 14-4 on Sunday Night Baseball.
In the week ahead: the Sox will open up Fenway Park by welcoming the 2-4 Washington Nationals for a three game series, followed by a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles which will feature the annual 11:05 A.M. start on Patriot Day.
New York Yankees: 2-4, 5th Place
It was not an ideal start to the season for the Bronx Bombers with two consecutive series losses to division rivals Toronto and Boston. On Opening Day, they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1 behind a 4 inning start from Masahiro Tanaka in which he gave up 5 earned runs on 5 hits. This already lead to the Yankees using five of their bullpen pitchers in the first game: Chris Martin, Chasen Shreve, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, and Esmil Rogers. If I did not know any better, I would have guessed this was the name of all the members in Coldplay.
The second game of the year was a little more promising with a 4-3 win over Toronto behind a quality start from Michael Pineda of six innings and two earned runs allowed. Dellin Betances would get the win and Andrew Miller, in his first Yankees appearance, got the save, striking out one. The Yankees would not win again until the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast in which they beat the Red Sox 14-4 behind an Alex Rodriguez three run double on a night where he went 1-2 with 4 RBI’s and 2 walks.
In the week ahead: the Yankees will head to Camden Yards to open up a three game series against the Orioles. Michael Pineda, C.C. Sabathia, and Nathan Eovaldi are all scheduled to start. They will then head to Tampa Bay for a three game series at the Trop.
Tampa Bay Rays: 3-3, tied for 3rd Place
With very low expectations for the Rays and a new manager at the helm, there does not seem to be much pressure on this ball club. In the opening series against Baltimore, they only won one out of three, winning 2-0 in the series finale. Jake Odorizzi went 6.2 innings, only giving up two hits and walking none while striking out seven. Jeff Beliveau, Kevin Jepsen and Brad Boxberger would secure the shutout and give the Rays their first win of the season.
Their next challenge would be the very hyped up Miami Marlins. Despite losing, the first game of the series was the best game of the year so far for the Rays. Down 8-1 in the 7th inning, the Rays would score 7 runs to tie the game up at 8. Three bases loaded walks, a David DeJesus double and an Asdrubal Cabrera single later, the Rays tied up the game. They would end up losing this game 10-9 on a Christian Yelich single in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Rays would go on to win the next two games of the series, taking the series from the Marlins.
In the week ahead: the Rays will head north of the border to face the Blue Jays in their home opening series for four games. After that, they will return to the Trop to play the Yankees for three games.
Toronto Blue Jays: 4-2, tied for 1st Place
The Blue Jays started off the season as many would have expected; taking consecutive series’ against division rivals. For a team that always has high expectations that are rarely met, this is a great start for them. After taking two of three from the Yankees in their home opening series, they did the same to the Orioles, starting on Friday with a 12-5 win in the O’s home opener. Mark Buehrle would pitch 6 innings, give up 8 hits, 2 runs and go on his way to his 200th career win.
The next day would feature young Jays pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez not making it out of the 4th inning while giving up 3 runs on 7 hits to the powerful Baltimore offense. Todd Redmond would later give up a grand slam to Jonathan Schoop in the 5th inning. They would win the series finale 10-7 behind home runs from Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar, and Jose Bautista. Jose Reyes and Dioner Navarro both had RBI’s in the game as well.
In the week ahead: the Jays will open up Rogers Centre with a four game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. R.A. Dickey is scheduled to start the opener with Daniel Norris and Mark Buehrle also scheduled to make starts. They will then welcome the Atlanta Braves for a three game weekend series.
Current Standings, as of April 13:
- Boston Red Sox: 4-2
- Toronto Blue Jays: 4-2
- Baltimore Orioles: 3-3
- Tampa Bay Rays: 3-3
- New York Yankees: 2-4
Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison