AL East Bias: The Greek God Takes a Walk
New York Yankees
The Yankees have taken over the top spot in the AL East thanks to a run differential of +62, good for second in the AL behind only the Rangers. The Yankees benefited from Andy Pettitte's unlikely return from retirement and a turnaround from Ivan Nova. Pettitte was hit on the ankle with a hard ground ball earlier this week and placed on the 60 day disabled list with a broken fibula. Pettitte won't be able to return until late August at the earliest. C.C. Sabathia also landed on the DL this week with a left groin strain. The injuries to Pettitte and Sabathia could result in the the Yankees stepping up their efforts to acquire a starter like Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza in order to maintain their lead in the hotly contested AL East. Robinson Cano has been New York's hottest hitter in June. The All Star second baseman has clubbed 10 home runs this month.
The Orioles' struggles over the past two weeks have Baltimore fans saying "here we go again". The club has struggled to score runs since last week's anemic trip to visit the Mets. The injuries to Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold have taken their toll on a one dimensional lineup. Buck Showalter lacks reliable options in left and right field. The most troubling development may be the shellacking Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen just took on back to back days. The two starters had been Baltimore's most dependable arms propping up a rotation that includes the confounding Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta. Zach Britton, originally viewed as a mid-season rotation savior, has struggled in Triple-A. If the Orioles are going to remain in the race GM Dan Duquette will need to find a starting pitcher and a decent bat to put in left field before this once promising season slips away. The Orioles should take solace in the fact that they'll play host to the Indians this weekend, who just happen to have the second worst pitching staff in the AL.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have overcome another horrendous start to claw their way back into the thick of the AL East standings. Boston traded long-time third baseman and Moneyball poster boy Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox earlier this week to pave the way for youngster Will Middlebrooks to take over the hot corner on a full-time basis. Middlebrooks is putting together a terrific rookie season. In 45 games Middlebrooks has nine home runs, 36 RBI and a .878 OPS. Boston recently lost the struggling Clay Buchholz and his 5.53 ERA to the disabled list due to an inflammation of the esophagus. There’s a sucking joke in there somewhere. Lefty Franklin Morales has come in from the bullpen to deliver three solid starting efforts. The Red Sox are 2-1 in Morales starts. He's allowed just four runs in 18 innings and struck out 24 to just 3 walks as a starter.
The Rays are still plugging along despite the fact that Evan Longoria is still on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce have done their best to pick up the slack in Longo's absence. Joyce, a 27 year old outfielder, is having the best season of his career with 11 home runs and a .899 OPS. The strength of Tampa's club remains starting pitching. David Price is having another terrific season with 10 wins and a 2.95 ERA. Ballyhooed rookie left-hander Matt Moore has overcome a tough start. After beginning the season just 1-5 the 23 year old Moore is 3-0 in June and has lowered his ERA by nearly a half run in his last five starts. Moore has fanned 90 batters in 88 innings.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have dropped to 8 ½ games behind the Yankees in the divisional standings. Toronto currently sits at 38-38 on the season despite numerous injuries to its young pitching staff. Kyle Drabek, who looked to be establishing himself in the big leagues, was lost to Tommy John surgery. Brandon Morrow, the Jay’s best pitcher is currently on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Left-hander Brett Cecil has been hit hard in three starts since his promotion from the minor leagues. Toronto is riding the red hot bat of Jose Bautista to remain in contention. Joey Bats has hammered 14 bombs in June and raised his OPS from .779 to .906.
Opening Day first baseman Adam Lind may soon be on his way back to the Jays. Lind was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas in May after hitting just .190 with three home runs in his first 37 games of the 2012 season. The 28 year old Lind his hitting .392 with eight dingers and an OPS of 1.112 in 32 games with Las Vegas.