AL East Bias: Philly Faithful set to invade Camden Yards
The Orioles are still clinging to a share of first place in the division despite losing seven of their last ten games. The O’s righted the ship a bit by winning the first two games of their series in Boston. Clay Buchholz pitched an unlikely shutout on Thursday, and lowered his ERA to 5.77 in the process, to break Baltimore’s seven game winning streak at Camden Yards North.
The Orioles will play host to the scuffling Phillies this weekend at the real Camden Yards. The once feared Phillies are now an old, injured bunch that has matched Baltimore’s seven losses in ten games. The two teams are very evenly matched with Baltimore scoring just two more runs and allowing just five more runs on the season than the Phillies. The Orioles catch a huge break by missing Cole Hamels in this series. Philadelphia will start Joe Blanton, Vance Worley, and the winless Cliff Lee in the three game tilt.
Jake Arrieta will get the start for the Birds on Friday night. The O’s opening day starter has struggled for much of the season. The 26 year old Arrieta is just 2-7 with a 5.53 ERA on the year. With Zach Britton rehabbing, Chris Tillman making progress at Norfolk, and Jamie Moyer set to start for the Tides on Saturday, Arrieta may be pitching for his spot in the rotation.
The Rays continue to hold a share of first place despite running out a starting lineup that on some nights would make the Tampa Yankees blush. The good news for the Rays is that their pitching has been excellent ranking third in the American League in runs allowed. David Price improved his record to 8-3 with Thursday’s 7-3 victory over the Yankees.
All Star third baseman Evan Longoria, who has been sidelined since late April with a bad hamstring, is expected to return in mid-June. Longoria’s return will restore some thump to the middle of the Rays’ lineup and shift Sean Rodriguez back to shortstop on a more regular basis.
New York Yankees
The Yankees sit just a half game back of the Rays and Orioles. New York will face off against the surprising Mets this weekend at Yankee Stadium. The Mets’ Johan Santana will take on Hiroki Kuroda tonight in his first start since last week’s no-hitter. Andy Pettite will face Jon Niese on Sunday afternoon. Pettite has been outstanding in his latest reincarnation with the Yanks. The soon-to-be 40 year old lefty is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in five starts. He’s given the Yankees a solid number two starter to put behind CC Sabathia. Ivan Nova continues to be baseball’s luckiest pitcher amassing a 7-2 record despite an unsightly 5.09 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are just three games over .500 despite having a run differential of +29 on the season. Casey Jansen has emerged as Toronto’s closer in the absence of Sergio Santos. The Blue Jays acquired Santos from the White Sox during the offseason to stabilize the back end of their bullpen and replace free agent Frank. Santos has been out since mid-April with right shoulder inflammation. No timetable has been set for his return.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie caught the ire of the league when he spiked his batting helmet at an umpire a few weeks back. The Jays may be getting irked by Lawrie’s lack of production. The 22 year old is playing terrific defense at third base but his 2012 OPS is just .699. After posting a .580 slugging percentage in 43 games in 2011 Lawrie has just twelve extra base hits and a .381 slugging percentage this season. More importantly, he’s killing my fantasy team. Come on Brett, the Whistle Pigs need you.
Boston Red Sox
As much as I like writing that the Red Sox are in last place in the AL East they’re just 3 games out of first. Boston has surpassed the .500 mark and currently sits at 29-28 thanks to an improving Josh Beckett and surprising Felix Doubront. The rookie lefty is 6-2 on the season and has posted seven quality starts in 11 starts. Beckett has eight quality starts in 11 outings.
Boston optioned struggling right-hander Daniel Bard to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this week. Boston was attempting to convert Bard to a starter after he served the team well as a reliever for the past three years. Bard walked 37 batters and complied a 5.24 ERA in 55 innings prior to his demotion. Rather than admit the mistake and move Bard back to the bullpen the Red Sox apparently intend to have Bard work as a starter for Pawtucket.