AL East Update: 7/28-8/3

The dog days of summer are in their closing stages here as August begins, with the race in the American League East fairly open, with first and third place separated by just 5 1/2 games. The division was shaken drastically by some big trades before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, with some big names headed out of the division. The Red Sox traded ace Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics, getting slugger Yoenis Cespedes in return. They also traded John Lackey to the Cardinals for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. The biggest trade of the day was a three-team deal that sent left-handed ace David Price from Tampa Bay to Detroit, while Detroit sent Drew Smyly and Willy Adames back to Tampa. They also sent Austin Jackson to Seattle, with Seattle trading infielder Nick Franklin to the Rays. Here is a look at the division update for the past week:

1. Baltimore Orioles (62-48, 4-2 this week)

The Orioles have continued their stretch of consistent baseball, expanding their division lead to 3 1/2 games over the Blue Jays. Baltimore started their week on Tuesday at home with an extra-inning victory over the Angels, the deciding run coming on Manny Machado’s walk-off solo home run. They clinched the series on Wednesday with a 4-3 win behind a quality start from Kevin Gausman, who allowed just three runs on three hits in seven innings en route to his fifth win. After Baltimore failed to finish the sweep on Thursday, they hosted a weekend series with Seattle. The two teams split the first two games before the O’s took the series on Sunday behind a seven-inning shutout performance by Chris Tillman.

2. Toronto Blue Jays (60-53, 4-3 this week)

Toronto stands just 3 1/2 games back of the Orioles for the division lead, but the Blue Jays did not help themselves after the solid start to the week. They swept the Red Sox at Fenway Park in a three-game series to start the week, scoring a total of twenty-four runs to Boston’s four. The Jays then moved on to Houston, winning Thursday’s contest 6-5 behind homers from Jose Bautista, Dioner Navarro, and Nolan Reimold, who hit two. Toronto then dropped the next three games against the Astros, scoring just four runs total in the three games.

3. New York Yankees (63-53, 2-3 this week*)

The Yankees started the week in Texas against the Rangers, struggling with Texas’ Yu Darvish on Monday, scoring just two runs, both coming from Brett Gardner home runs. The Bronx Bombers bounced back on Tuesday with a 12-11 win, powered by a four-hit night by Gardner. Gardner hit another homer on Wednesday, but they dropped the finale, 3-2. The classic New York/Boston rivalry was renewed on Friday night, with the Red Sox taking game one behind the dominant arm of Anthony Ranaudo, who allowed just two runs in six innings in his first MLB win. New York came back on Saturday with a 6-4 win, with Derek Jeter picking up two hits and two RBI.

*The Yankees conclude their week on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball against the Boston Red Sox.

4. Tampa Bay Rays (54-57, 3-3 this week)

The Rays have continuously inched closer and closer to .500 since June, but as they get ready for the first full week of August, they are still three games under. The week looked promising from the start, with back-to-back wins over Milwaukee on Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s win came on the arm of Jake Odorizzi, who allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings. James Loney’s two-run single in the sixth proved to be the key hit in the ball game. Tuesday’s game was a deadlock until Tampa Bay broke through with four runs in the eighth to clinch the series. Although no one knew it at the time, Wednesday was David Price’s last start in a Rays uniform. It was a forgettable outing, with Price allowing four runs in seven innings, dropping his eighth game. After the big trade on Thursday, Tampa Bay lost two of three to the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.

5. Boston Red Sox (49-61, 1-4 this week*)

The Red Sox have reportedly shifted their focus to the 2015 season, so the rest of this season may be a time for Boston to give their younger prospects a chance at the big-league level. Boston was swept by Toronto in embarrassing fashion to start the week, scoring just four runs in the three games while the Blue Jays plated 24 runs. Thursday was a wild day for Boston’s front office, with Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes being traded to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes in the day’s first blockbuster trade. John Lackey was then traded to St. Louis for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig in another big trade. Boston went on to split the first two games of the weekend with their rival, the New York Yankees.

*The Red Sox conclude their week on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball against the New York Yankees.

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