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AL East: The stretch run
It was a solid week for everyone in the American League East, except, of course, the hapless Devil Rays, who went 1-5. The Orioles were 5-1, the Red Sox were 5-2, the Jays went 4-2, and the Yanks were 4-3. Boston ended the weekend with a loss, but still have a healthy 8.0-game lead over the Yankees, whose best shot at the postseason is to win the wild card, where they currently trail the Indians by four games. Toronto's record stands at 52-52, and they 11.5 back; the Orioles are surging but still 14.5 out of first. And it is late early once again in Tampa Bay, as the Rays trail by 24.5. The Jays and O's will jockey for third place but this looks like how the division will wind up at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see what, if any, moves are made in the next 48 hours as the trading deadline looms.
Starting in the cellar, the Rays broke an eight-game-losing streak on Sunday, after coming back against Jonathan Paplebon on Saturday night, only to lose to Boston in extra innings. The Rays jumped the trading deadline last week, moving disgruntled reserve infielder to the Reds, then shipping Ty Wiggington to the Astros, and reliever Seth McClung to the Brewers. The Mariners are interested in Tampa's closer, Al Reyes. It's been another long, trying year for the Rays, who are trying -- and now perhaps succeeding -- to develop pitching.
The Jays were were cautiously optimistic about their chances to make a run at the postseason before losing two tough games to the White Sox over the weekend. Then they lost 4-3 on Friday night and starting pitcher Josh Towers ripped his team to the media:
"We just gave the game away. Personally, that's what I think," Towers said. "Today was just a game that I felt we were in complete control of and we should've won and we didn't. All around, it just wasn't a great game played by us.
The following day, a players-only meeting was held. Afterwards, veteran catcher Gregg Zaun said, "I always understand frustration ... But it's never productive to throw anybody on the team under the bus. It just doesn't get anybody anywhere. It creates bad feelings and resentment and a simple apology usually takes care of it."
According to the Globe and Mail, Towers will not be traded.
Roy Halladay tossed his fourth complete game of the season on Saturday but the Jays came up short, 2-0. The game lasted two hours and seven minutes, much longer than the last time Halladay and Mark Buehrle squared off, back in May. That game lasted one hour and fifty minutes and the Jays won, 2-0. According to Buehrle, "My theory in a game is win quick, lose quick. Whatever you do, get the ball and throw it. There is no reason to take your time out there."
Moving on to Baltimore, where the Orioles are playing about as well as they are likely to play all season. This weekend may have been all about Cal Ripken Jr., who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, but it was also about the streaking O's, who are pitching well, fielding well, hitting some, and running the bases with aggression. Baltimore is happy to have Miguel Tejada back in the line-up.
The Yanks plowed through the Royals for three straight nights and then lost the next three games in a row. Saturday night's 7-5 defeat in Baltimore was the worst of it. The Yankees have put themselves in a position where they cannot afford to lose more than one or two games a week. They are fortunate that the Indians, Tigers and Twins have all been scuffling of late. Alex Rodriguez, hitless since launching career homer run No. 499, is pressing, swinging at balls out of the strike zone, though he did walk three times yesterday.
Now that Ryan the Temp appears headed to Dunder Mifflin headquarters in New York, Dwight Schreute could have a new person to train in Kei Igawa, who was demoted to Scranton. Igawa hasn't received the kind of heat that Carl Pavano did, but so far, this deal is every bit the bust. Phillip Hughes, who had another good outing yesterday, will probably take Igawa's next turn, which would be this coming weekend vs. the Royals.
The Yanks are looking for bullpen help. Scott "The God of Hell Fire" Proctor and Kyle "Cooter" Farnsworth -- who got into it with catcher Jorge Posada on Sunday -- are likely chips, according to George King. The Yanks have interest in Greg Gagne, who would prefer to close. But they may have an in-house solution as Joba Chamberlain has been taken out of the starting rotation in Scranton. Chamberlain is expected to work in relief this week. According to Joel Sherman:
"Our guys saw Chamberlain last week and said he was the best pitching prospect they have seen all year," an AL executive said. "If he were a five-year veteran there is no doubt with this stuff that he would be pitching in the majors. So here you have the chance to pitch him in the majors while also limiting his innings. You get value both ways. The Yanks should absolutely do that."
The Red Sox are rolling. Manny is starting to hit. But they are still interested in Jermaine Dye. J.D. Drew continues to work diligently through a difficult first season in Boston. Says hitting coach Dave Magadan say:
"He's worked hard on staying through the ball, staying to the middle of the field, and driving the ball the other way. It's just something that hasn't really transferred into the game. When you're getting pitched the way he is -- he's getting pitched hard in and then soft stuff out over the plate -- it's a tougher pitch to drive the other way when it's soft out over the plate.
Meanwhile, Curt Schilling is looking to return to the rotation in early August, and long-lost starter Matt Clement hopes to comeback in September.
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
The Yankees are interested in closer Eric Gagne of the Texas Rangers. I doubt they are interested in acquiring retired shortstop Greg Gagne as a relief pitcher.
Greg Gagne couldn't do any worse as a bench player or a reliever for the Yankees right now!
AL East blog (Monday)
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AL Central blog (Tuesday)
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