Monday, April 13, 2009

AL East Roundup - Week 1

I'm participating with a few other bloggers in this AL East Roundup to keep everyone here up to date on our division rivals and let followers of other teams know what's going on with the Orioles. This will appear every Monday if we can keep it going. Without further ado...

New York Yankees - River Ave. Blues

The Yanks' fan base got into a tizzy on Monday and Wednesday after
dropping two games to the Baltimore Orioles. With such high
expectations, such a reaction was easily foreseeable, but that doesn't
make it any less ridiculous. In true Yankee fashion they bludgeoned
the Orioles on Thursday, defeated the Royals handily on Friday, and
went back to bludgeoning on Saturday. They scored 35 runs over the
first six games, which is remarkable because their best hitter is on
the DL and his replacement managed just one hit all week (and even
that came in the season opener).

After shaky opening starts by CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang, the
pitching staff rebounded nicely. A.J. Burnett looked like his filthy
self on Thursday, striking out six and walking just one in 5.1 innings
of work. He threw a few too many pitches in the third and fourth,
hence the early hook. He was still throwing free and easy, though,
giving Yanks fans high hopes for future starts. Andy Pettite was
nothing but solid on Friday, his only run allowed coming on a
catchable ball that Nick Swisher lost in the sun. Sabathia pitched 7.2
scoreless on Saturday, proving that the rumors of his death were
greatly exaggerated.

Finally, Joba Chamberlain turned in an excellent six innings on
Sunday, needing just 88 pitches to get through while allowing one
earned run, though a Swisher error gave the Yanks just a one-run lead.
Joe Girardi tried to impersonate Tony LaRussa, using three relievers
in the eighth, even though Damaso Marte retired the first two hitters
with ease, leading to a three-run inning and a stolen Royals victory.

Week's record: 3-3

Season record: 3-3

Injuries: 1B Mark Teixeira - wrist - day to day

This week: Mon - Wed @ Tampa Bay; Thu - Sun CLEVELAND

Tampa Bay Rays - Rays of Light

The story of the week for the Rays starts and ends with Evan Longoria,
with a little bit more Evan Longoria sprinkled in during the middle
chapters. Though it's a little early to be talking about these things,
Evan is on pace to shatter the April record for dingers as he hit 5
home runs in the Rays' 6 games. He's already silencing anyone who
thinks that there's a "sophomore slump" about to happen. Along with
those 5 round trippers, Evan hit .481 with 10 RBI, 4 doubles, and 5
runs scored (that's a 1.185 slugging percentage, for those of you
keeping count).

All told, it was a rather pedestrian opening act for the rest of the
Rays. After looking pretty good in taking 2-out-of-3 from Boston to
start the week, the Rays then came out all sorts of flat against the
Orioles on Friday and Saturday before beating the tar out of the
orange-birds on Sunday. A 3-3 start to the season when going to Boston
and Baltimore isn't the worst of ways to start the season, but the
team has to be disappointed that couldn't head into the home opener
with a 4-2 mark instead.

This was all done without the services of centerfielder B.J. Upton,
who will be activated from the disabled list prior to Monday's night's
home opener against the Yankees. To make room for Upton, the Rays sent
outfielder Matt Joyce to Triple-A Durham. Joyce hit .100 (1-for-10)
with a home run and an RBI in 3 games for the Rays this week. In all
likelihood, he would be the first man recalled should another
outfielder go down with some kind of injury.

Week's record: 3-3

Season record: 3-3

Injuries: None

Next week: Mon - Wed NEW YORK; Thu - Sun CHICAGO

Toronto Blue Jays -- Drunk Jays Fans

Note: DJF is here for a one-week cameo. We'll have a different
Jays blogger next week.

The biggest news of the first week of the season for the Jays, other
than nearly forfeiting on Opening Day because of debris being thrown
onto the field by fans, was that they actually went out and won. After
an off-season of lowered expectations, following on the heels of a
season where Jays pitchers were arguably the best in the majors, but
the hitters simply couldn't score, the Jays' lineup actually looked
like the "best case scenario" that disappointingly didn't materialize
in 2008. And for the most part, the production was coming from outside
the 3 and 4 spots in the lineup, held down by Alex Rios and Vernon
Wells. Youngster Adam Lind led the way with an MLB-leading 12 RBIs,
and Aaron Hill, back after missing most of last season with
post-concussion syndrome, looks like his old self. Marco Scutaro
(.385/.485/.731 with 2 HR and 5 RBI) has also been swinging a hot bat.
The rotation held it's own as well, with strong outings from rookie
Ricky Romero, second-year man David Purcey, and naturally, a pair of
gems from Roy Halladay.

The Jays' main concern-- apart from the fact that the torrid hitting
certainly won't last, and that the young pitchers are going to suffer
through ups and downs-- has been for $10M closer BJ Ryan. Nearly a
full two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Ryan is still
struggling to find his command, and his fastball is down a couple
notches to the 88-89mph range-- which is up from earlier in the
spring, when he was throwing fastballs that would occasionally top out
at 84. Ryan blew a save against Detroit, though the Jays came back to
win that game, and entered in a non-save situation against Cleveland,
only to load the bases with two outs (two of them by walk), and then
watch Mark DeRosa hit a double that would have been a home run if not
for a stiff wind off Lake Erie, turning a comfortable 5-1 lead, into a
5-4 game with a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth. Jason
Frasor relieved Ryan to close out the game.

Week's record: 5-2

Season record: 5-2

Injuries: RHP Casey Janssen - shoulder - 15 day DL, out indefinitely.

Next week: Mon - Thu @ Minnesota; Fri - Sun OAKLAND

Boston Red Sox - Surviving Grady

Tough going out of the gate for the Sox, dropping 2 of 3 to the Rays
at Fenway to kick off the season, then hopping a flight to the left
coast where they dropped another 2 of 3 to the Angels. Hey, it's only
the first week, but a couple things have us concerned: After Josh
Beckett's stellar performance in the season opener, Jon Lester,
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Timmy Wakefield struggled. Brad Penny didn't
fare much better in his Sox debut against Anaheim, but was saved by
some timely offense. Speaking of hitting, the team's first full season
of Life After Manny may be tougher than we'd imagined; through the
first six games, the team is averaging just 3.4 runs per game, and
some of the big guns we're counting on -- Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz,
JD Drew and Mike Lowell -- are a wretched 10-for-65 combined.

On the bright side, Youk is tearing it up at .526, and Rocco Baldelli
has been a pleasant surprise thus far, legging out a key hit in
Saturday's game against Anaheim and flashing some pretty imrpessive
leather in the field. This week it's on to Oakland for three games,
then back home for Baltimore. Things should be getting better fast. Or
so I pray to the Gods of Baseball.

Week's record: Season record: 2-4

Injuries: None

This week: Mon - Wed @ Oakland; Fri - Sun BALTIMORE

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