Monday, April 20, 2009

AL East Roundup: Week 2

It lives! Week 2 of the AL East Roundup through to eyes of fellow bloggers from rival teams...

Toronto Blue Jays

None of the Jays replacements we've contacted have come through, so you're going to have to deal with ol' Joe's recap of the Blue Jays week. It's a shame none of their bloggers stepped up, because they're off to a remarkable start. They sit atop the AL East which, while it likely won't last long, has to be music to Jays fans' ears. With all the talk about the Sox, Yanks, and Rays, it must be nice looking down at them.

The week started off rough, with Jesse Litsch getting roughed up for four runs over three innings on Monday. Worse, he's now on the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain, never a good omen. He won't even throw a baseball for two weeks, and his return is currently set at four to six weeks, but that might be optimistic. Still, they came back and won it for Litsch. Travis Snider went deep for the second time in the game and gave the Jays an 8-6 win. After taking three of four from Minnesota, the Jays stomped the A's for two out of three over the weekend. It could have been a sweep, but Brandon League blew Friday's game in the eighth, allowing three runs for an 8-5 A's comeback.

Week's record: 5-2

Season record: 10-4

Injuries: RHP Jesse Litsch (15-day DL, forearm strain)

This week: Tue - Thu TEXAS; Fri - Sun @Chicago

Yankees -- River Ave. Blues

The Yankees experienced quite the crazy week. Surprisingly, they came out on the winning end of it. It started in an inauspicious manner, a 15-5 blowout highlighted by a Nick Swisher relief appearance. The loser was Chien-Ming Wang, who would go on to get blown out yet again on Saturday against Cleveland. Formerly the top pitcher in the rotation, Wang now faces serious issues. Pitching coach Dave Eiland feels that Wang is doing everything right in bullpen sessions, but isn't bringing it out to the field with him. The stoic righty's next start, Friday in Boston, is currently in question.

After the 15-5 drubbing, the Yanks came back with two straight wins against the rival Rays, powered by a strong performance by A.J. Burnett in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The Rays mustered two runs that inning, tying the game, but the Yanks pulled ahead again in the eighth, and Derek Jeter iced the game with a three-run homer in the ninth to give Burnett his second win as a Yankee. Burnett also gave the Yanks innings on Sunday after another Chien-Ming Wang blowout on Saturday. He clearly didn't have all of his stuff, but he got through six and a third with only three earned runs. The Yankees came back to win the game.

And, of course, the Yanks got thumped in their home opener, 10-2. Not something we particularly want to talk about, but I thought the non-Yanks fans on other sites would appreciate it.

Week's record: 4-3

Season record: 7-6

Injuries: Xavier Nady (15-day DL; elbow ligament strain/tear)

This week: Mon - Wed OAKLAND; Fri - Sun @Boston

Red Sox - Surviving Grady

A bizarre second week of action for the Sox, they’re beginning to become a bigger puzzle than the reason for Rob Schneider’s acting career. After getting taken behind the woodshed by Dallas Braden and the A’s, the Sox lost a nut-buster in 12 the next night which also sent Dice-K to the DL after one horrendous inning pitched. Then from the ashes came an unlikely hero in Tim Wakefield. He took a no-hitter into the eighth, finishing the game with an 8-2 win. The victory not only stopped an ugly skid of losses, it gave the bullpen a much-needed rest. A rest they would need for the 10-8 slugfest with the Orioles two nights later.

Then pitching became fashionable again over the weekend. With the exception of the proverbial “one bad inning” Josh Beckett shut the birds down on Saturday night as the offense continued to improve, finishing with a 6-4 win. On Sunday, Jon Lester pitched the way we hoped he would – and now need him to – blanking Baltimore through seven to scratch out a 2-1 win. With Lowrie on the DL and Julio Lugo hopefully lost in a time warp, Nick Green has inherited the shortstop position and handled it quite well so far. He’s batting .278 with 3 RBI in his 6 starts and playing steady defense.

RIP Mark Fidrych.

Week's record: 4-2

Season record: 6-6

Injuries: Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-day DL, shoulder); Jed Lowrie (15-day DL, wrist)

This week: Mon BALTIMORE; Tue - Wed MINNESOTA; Fri - Sun NEW YORK

Tampa Bay Rays - Rays of Light

This certainly isn't how the Rays envisioned opening up defense of the American League Championship. But that's what happens when you pitch to an ERA over 5-and-a-quarter and you have an offense that only pads one stat - the strikeout. This week was supposed to be real special for the Rays; opening up at home against the Yankees and then inviting the White Sox in for an ALDS rematch. Instead, every single weakness on this team was exposed over the course of the week. The offense is desperately dependent on the longball right now. The Gabe-Every-Day right-field platoon has been anything but impressive. Troy Percival is still Troy Percival. You name it, it went wrong this week.

If a Rays fan is looking for a silver lining, B.J. Upton showed some of that all-world talent this week in making two Willie Mays-esque catches in center. Ben Zobrist is mashing like there's no tomorrow. Carlos Pena is on pace for about 70 home runs and has hit in 12 straight games. Joe Nelson has been a welcome addition to the bullpen. That doesn't wash the beer-that's-been-sitting-out-for-12-days taste out of a Rays' fan mouth, but at least it gives him hope that Monday's off-day will rejuvenate the team and allow it to get back to basics on the West Coast this week.

Week's record: 2-5

Season record: 5-8

Injuries: B.J. Upton (sore quad) - day-to-day, Shawn Riggans (shoulder tendonitis) - 15-day-DL

This week: Tue - Thur @Seattle; Fri - Sun @Oakland

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