AL East Update: 4/28-5/4

In what is arguably considered the most competitive division in baseball, just two and a half games separate the first and last place teams in early May. Here’s a look at how the division fared over the past week.

1. New York Yankees (16-14, 1-4 this week)
Even after a rough 1-4 week, the Yankees continue to hold on to first place in the division. Following an off day on Monday, New York dropped a Tuesday night game to the Seattle Mariners 6-3 before enduring a rainout on Wednesday. Coming back on Thursday, they fell to the Mariners again, this time in a 4-2 decision, despite a quality start by Hiroki Kuroda. Things would not come any easier for the Bronx Bombers over the weekend, with the division-rival Rays coming in. The Yankees fought back to tie the game in the eighth inning in Friday night’s game on back-to-back home runs by Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano, then came back again in the ninth, this time on a two-out single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Following multiple threats in extra innings, a five-run fourteenth by the Rays proved to be too much to overcome, as the Yankees fell 10-5. Masahiro Tanaka turned in a solid start on Saturday, leading to a 9-3 New York victory before the Rays clinched the series on Sunday by taking advantage of a poor start by C.C. Sabathia, who lasted just three and two-thirds innings, allowing five runs.

Player of the Week- Jacoby Ellsbury (8-18, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 SB)

2. Baltimore Orioles (15-14, 3-2 this week)

The Orioles saw their share of rain this week, having games postponed on both Tuesday and Wednesday. That did not stop them from having a solid week, starting on Thursday with a doubleheader sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Game one was all about Steve Pearce, who went 3 for 4 with two RBI. Young third baseman Manny Machado made his return to the lineup for the first time in 2014 in game two, which turned out to be a close one for Baltimore, though they emerged victorious when Matt Wieters launched a walk-off home run in the tenth inning. The O’s continued their winning ways on Friday night with a 3-o win over the Minnesota Twins; powered by Nelson Cruz, who finished 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and two RBI. However, Minnesota fought back to take the series by winning back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday by scores of 6-1 and 5-2, respectively.

Player of the Week- Nelson Cruz (7-21, 2 HR, 4 RBI)

3. Boston Red Sox (15-17, 3-3 this week)

The defending World Series Champions had a week of ups and downs, starting out with a 7-4 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday behind a solid start by John Lackey, who allowed just two runs in eight innings while striking out five. Wednesday’s rainout led to a doubleheader on Thursday, in which the Red Sox were swept by scores of 2-1 and 6-5. The Sox took the first two games in their weekend series with the Oakland Athletics, winning Friday night’s game 7-1, backed by four RBI courtesy of Dustin Pedroia, who homered and doubled. Saturday was Jon Lester’s day to shine, tossing eight shutout innings, allowing just one hit while striking out fifteen. Boston was unable to finish off the sweep of the Athletics on Sunday, falling 3-2 in ten innings.

Player of the Week- Jon Lester (8 IP, H, O R, 2 BB, 15 K in win over Oakland)

4. Tampa Bay Rays (15-17, 4-3 this week)

The Rays finished a rough four-game series in Chicago on Monday with an ugly 7-3 loss before dropping Tuesday night’s game to the Red Sox by a score of 7-4. Things turned around for the Rays after Wednesday’s rainout, sweeping the doubleheader in Boston on Thursday. They took game one thanks to a good day from David DeJesus, who homered to tie the game early and later drew a bases loaded walk to give Tampa Bay the lead. The Rays trailed game two 5-2 after five innings, but the deficit was cut to 5-4 in the sixth on a home run by Sean Rodriguez, before James Loney tied the game with a single in the eighth. Yunel Escobar came through with the game-winning homer in the ninth off of Koji Uehara, stealing another win for the Rays. Tampa Bay then moved on to win a fourteen-inning thriller in the Bronx on Friday before dropping Saturday’s game, 9-3. They picked up the series victory on Sunday afternoon with a 5-1 win, aided by Wil Myers’ three-run inside-the-park home run in the third.

Player of the Week- Sean Rodriguez (7-20, 4 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 5 R)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (14-17, 2-4 this week)

Following a hot start to the season, the Blue Jays had a disappointing week. They dropped two of three to the Kansas City Royals, despite scoring sixteen runs in the series. The weekend was just as rough for Toronto, who dropped two of three to Pittsburgh after leading late both Friday and Saturday night. Sergio Santos blew a save on Saturday night, allowing a walk-off three-run home run to Starling Marte in the ninth, before Aaron Loup blew a save on Saturday, giving up a go-ahead two-run double to Neil Walker in the eighth. The Jays came back on Sunday afternoon with a 7-2 win, powered by big days at the plate from both Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus.

Player of the Week- Colby Rasmus (8-25, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 R)


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