AL East Roundup: 4/13/09 through 4/19/09By
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
Orioles – Dempsey’s Army
The Orioles averaged six runs a game this week and were only able to parlay that production into a 2-4 record. Such is the state of the rotation and the bullpen. Every member of the Oriole rotation took at least one beating this week even when the team won. Only Koji Uehara turned in a performance that could be considered even acceptable as he threw a gem against the Red Sox on Sunday, giving up only 2 runs over 7.0 innings and striking out five. Unfortunately, Jon Lester gave up no runs and struck out 9 over the same span.
Only Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara begin to give the Orioles a chance to compete when they take the mound. Adam Eaton has been beyond terrible (11.25 ERA) and Mark Hendrickson has been much worse than his 3.00 ERA would indicate (2.11 WHIP) and Alfredo Simon was getting lit up like a pinball machine before his elbow landed him on the DL.
The Orioles have decided to call up 23 year old RHP Brad Bergesen to take Simon’s spot in the rotation and he will start against the White Sox in Baltimore on Tuesday. Bergesen has gone 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA with 9 Ks and 3 BB over two starts in AAA Norfolk. I’m not entirely sure that he is ready for the big leagues but he will fare no worse than his peers in the back of the rotation.
Speaking of Norfolk, I saw them take on the Gwinnett Braves here in metro Atlanta today. Uber-prospect C Matt Wieters tweaked a hammy Friday night so he did not play. However, OF Nolan Reimold went 1-3 with an RBI against Atlanta’s own uber-prospect, 22 year old RHP Tommy Hanson. Hanson had wicked stuff but was a bit wild as Norfolk prevailed 4-2. Former Red Sox prospect RHP David Pauley looked very good for Norfolk. Even if he is just a AAAA guy, I can see why he would keep getting long looks from the Oriole front office if other opportunities present themselves.
3B Melvin Mora landed on the DL giving Ty Wigginton an opportunity to play at third. UT Ryan Freel is unhappy that he is not getting much playing time at the moment and is grumbling mildly to the press and GM Andy MacPhail. I guess that’s what happens when you are a mediocre player on a bad team for all those years; you get an inflated sense of self-worth.
The team finishes with Boston, then gets the White Sox and Rangers at home. The most interesting thing to watch this week will be Bergesen’s debut and possibly Uehara’s start to see if he can build on his success in Boston.
Notes: CF Adam Jones is a one man wrecking ball slugging .714 on the young season….Jones also left Sunday’s game with a sore right hamstring. If Jones goes on the DL (God forbid) look for Felix Pie to shift to center and for OF Lou Montanez to be recalled from Norfolk…RF Nick Markakis has cooled a bit at the plate but has a modest 6-game hitting streak after Sunday…The formerly free-swinging Orioles are 2nd in the AL in OBP this season…
Week’s record: 2-4
Season record: 6-6
Injuries: RHP Alfredo Simon – Elbow (Out until June), 3B Melvin Mora – Strained hamstring (out until early May), LHP Rich Hill – Elbow (Out until mid-May)
This week: Mon @Boston; Tue – Thu CHICAGO; Fri – Sun TEXAS
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