AL East Roundup: 5/4/09 through 5/10/09

Fan Confidence Poll: May 11th, 2009
Is Melky's hot start for real?

Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays Daze

In terms of series, the Jays split the 2-game series with LAA and CLE, and each time they came up with at least one 10+ run game. The 3-game series against Oakland series was a won the Jays (2-1). There was nothing particularly different about this week for the Jays, as they put up 45 runs during the week for a 6.5 run per game average. This average was achieved despite the Jays meeting their match in Jered Weaver, and I’m sure other teams will pour over his outing to see how he was able to 3 hit this offense while allowing only 1 run in a complete game gem.

Throughout the week, the key to their offensive effectiveness continued to be hitting throughout the lineup. Each day or night it seemed that all except maybe 1 or 2 guys were getting their hits, and most of them with men on base. Lind, Overbay, and Hill had really strong weeks, while Snider went 2 for 4 four times this week to help out his average. Overall, the offense continued to clobber opposing pitching and was supplemented by very effective pitching.

The bullpen, however, had a horrible start to the week, with Camp, League, and Carlson allowing 3 runs a piece. Rookie Bret Cecil turned in two excellent outings and may have forced Cito to give him another look instead of calling up the now healthy Casey Janssen. He threw 6 innings with 1 ER and 6 Ks in his first outing against a very good CLE lineup, and followed it up with an 8 inning game with 5 hits allowed, no earned runs, 2 walks and 6 Ks.

Most notable for the Jays this week was how efficiently the starting pitching was able to pitch. Monday and Tuesday’s outings by the pen must have really scared the starters into lasting longer into the games, because from then on they went over 7 innings with only 1 ER four times, with only Robert Ray lasting 6.1 innings. What did this mean for the suddenly unconfident pen? Well, from Wednesday to Sunday they pitched a total of 6.2 innings, with only 68 pitches thrown by 5 guys. So as we head into the following week, we have a fresh pen, extremely confident starting pitching, 3 more starters ready to return when needed (Romero, Purcey, and Janssen), and an offense that just seems to keep clicking.

Week’s Record: 4-3

Season Record: 22-12

Injuries: Michael Barrett (Shoulder), Jesse Litsch (Right Forearm – cleared to resume throwing), Shaun Marcum (Elbow), Dustin McGowan (Labrum), Ricky Romero (Threw in Single A May 8th), BJ Ryan (Throwing in HiA Dunedin), Casey Janssen (made 3 starts in HiA Dunedin).

This Week: Tue-Thu NEW YORK; Fri-Sun CHICAGO

Boston Red SoxSurviving Grady

Despite a powerless Papi and the Beard of Mayhem on the bench, the Red Sox managed to grab five wins against the Yankees, Cleveland and Tampa. Monday night the Sox treated Phil Hughes like the new guy on the cell block, scoring in each of the first four innings in their first meeting in the new Yankee Stadium Jason Bay’s two-run shot in the seventh would prove to be the margin of victory after a Yankee comeback. It was more of the same against Joba on Tuesday, with Bay crushing a three-run job in the first. Joba, true to form, would drill Bay later in the game but the Sox went on to a 7-3 win and a two-game sweep.

The Sox were unable to muster any offense against Carl Pavano, coming off a four-year, injury-plagued tour with the Yankees. Justin Masterson pitched OK until the wheels fell off in the seventh and the Sox went down without much of a fight 7-3. The next night was a bit different. The first 12 batters in the sixth inning not only reached base, they scored, capped by Jason Bay’s three-run homer. The Sox went on to win a laugher 13-3 behind Tim Wakefield and the bats.

The weekend series against the Rays was a see-saw battle. The Sox sent “Big Game” James Shields to the dugout (where he promptly whipped out a can of whoop-ass on the water jug) on yet another Jason Bay three-run home run. The Rays would seek vengeance on Saturday, running away with a 14-5 blowout. In Sunday’s finale, ESPN commentators bumbled their way through a dramatic Red Sox win. The Sox took a 4-3 lead in the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Papi and (who else?) Jason Bay. Papelbon put two runners on in the ninth before striking out Pena, Upton and Crawford to end it.

Week’s record: 5-2

Season record: 20-12

Injuries: Kevin Youkilis (day to day, back), Dustin Pedroia (day to day, groin)

This week: Tue-Thu @Anaheim; Fri – Sun @Seattle

Tampa Bay Rays – Mike Axisa

NOTE: The regular Rays contributor bailed this week. Hopefully he comes back next week. Huge thanks to Mike for filling in.

The week started off with Scott Kazmir walking Brian Roberts and Adam Jones before giving up a three run homer to Nick Markakis in the top of the first inning of Monday’s game, but luckily for the Rays that wasn’t a sign of what the rest of the week had in store. They split the two game set with Baltimore thanks to the late inning heroics of (who else?) Evan Longoria on Tuesday, but more on him later. The defending AL Champs then rolled into the Bronx and swept their first series at the New Yankee Stadium. Andy Sonnanstine turned in his best start of the year before Carlos Pena hit the go-ahead homer in the tenth inning on Wednesday, then Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria secured the win on Thursday with back-to-back homers off Mariano Rivera in the 9th.

Tampa then headed north to Boston, dropping game one of the three game series because of a five-run sixth inning in which Jason Bay and JD Drew clubbed three-run and two-run homers, respectively. The Boys in Some Sorta Blue took the screws to John Lester on Saturday, hitting him up for eight runs in just four and a third innings on their way to a 14-5 romp. Noted Red Sox killer Matt Garza took the mound in the rubber game of the series on Sunday night, throwing seven innings of three-run ball before giving way to the bullpen. Brian Shouse allowed a leadoff double to The Artist Formerly Known As David Ortiz before Dan Wheeler gave up the go-ahead hit to Jason Bay. Jonathan Papelbon made it interesting in the ninth, but Tampa wasn’t able to pull out another win.

Back to Longoria, who’s smokin’ hot bat was the story of the week. The Long Beach State Dirtbag hit .333-.375-.889 in the seven games, smacking four homers and driving in 14 runs. He leads all of baseball in doubles (15), RBI (44), SLG (.748), and WAR (2.9), and is second in OPS (1.158) and third in homers (11). Longoria also leads all third baseman with a 7.4 UZR, and has established himself as one of the five best players on the planet.

Week’s record: 4-3

Season record: 15-8

Injuries: No new injuries, but backup catcher Shawn Riggins had his rehab assignment cut short and will have his barking right shoulder looked at by Dr. James Andrews this week

This week: Tues-Weds @Baltimore; Thurs-Sun CLEVELAND

Baltimore OriolesDempsey’s Army

After going 0-6 the previous week, the Orioles showed signs of life splitting a two-game set at Tampa, beating the Twins twice in their two game visit to Camden Yards and coming tantalizingly close to taking the Yankee series in Baltimore this weekend. Jeremy Guthrie pitched well enough to win on Friday but C.C. Sabathia kept the Oriole bats at bay. Koji Uehara left the game with a 3-1 lead on Sunday that the bullpen frittered away capped by a three-run homer to Johnny Damon.

Speaking of Uehara, he has now had five straight quality starts. Unfortunately, the Orioles haven’t won a single one of those games. Uehara had been better than expected to this point but is becoming a hard luck loser far too often.

Veteran utility man and malcontent Ryan Freel came off the DL and was promptly shipped to the Cubs for AAA filler OF Joey Gathright. I imagine that Andy MacPhail was delighted to find any team who would assume even a portion of Freel’s $4 million salary. Freel was redundant on this team and he was chirping to the press of unhappiness with his playing time. He had to go.

OF Luke Scott injured his shoulder diving back to first on a pickoff throw and looks to be headed to the DL, a significant blow to the Oriole offense. It does allow for the very interesting move of calling up top outfield prospect Nolan Reimold (.381/.479/.711, 8 HR at AAA Norfolk) and starting him everyday. It will also allow the Felix Pie experiment to continue and for the club to get a longer look at Lou Montanez. The three of them could rotate LF/DH duties with Reimold working everyday. Baltimore is going nowhere this year. We might as well see if Reimold’s bat will translate to the majors, if Pie can hit his way out of a wet paper bag and if Montanez has any value as a fourth outfielder in the majors.

Looking back at Norfolk, C Matt Wieters has raised his average above .300 and is finally starting to stroke some extra base hits with 4 doubles in the last five games. SP Rich Hill made his third rehab start for Norfolk today lowering his ERA to 1.35 with 14 strikeout in 13.1 innings. Look for Hill to show up in Baltimore later this week.

Week’s Record: 4-3

Season Record: 13-19

Injuries: RP Dennis Sarfate (numbness in hand, 15-day DL, out until July), Rich Hill (elbow, 15-day DL, out until mid-May)

This Week: Tue-Wed TAMPA; Thur-Sun @Kansas City

Fan Confidence Poll: May 11th, 2009
Is Melky's hot start for real?
  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Axisa is a friggin sellout.

  • V

    It’s just a matter of time before Papelbon’s baserunners come around to score… grrrr….

    • V

      1.43 WHIP. Wow.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Sadly, we kept saying that about Dice-K last year and it never came true…

        • A.D.

          Until this year.

    • whozat

      Nah, he’s Clutch. A Proven Reliever. Better Than Mo. That would be unpossible.

  • Slugger27

    this surviving grady guy screams stereotypical sox fan… always gotta put in that yankee jab

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Yeah, the Pavano reference was superfluous, no?

      I mean, technically speaking, he’s not “coming off a four-year, injury-plagued tour with the Yankees”, he’s coming off of 5 starts this year against the Rangers, Royals, Yankees, Twins, and Tigers. Bringing that up was just as extra as the ESPN people bringing up the Yankees during the Red Sox-Rays telecast.

      • Slugger27

        new guy on the cell block, joba true to form… the pavano thing was the nail in the coffin to assure me that guy is your run-of-the-mill sox cheering douche

        • Mike Pop

          If I didn’t know any better, I would think it was Jeff Louderback writing this.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Meh, I’m constantly making snide remarks about David Ortiz being legally dead or Dustin Pedroia being David Faustino in disguise…

            I’m your run-of-the-mill Yankees cheering douche as well, I guess.

            The difference is, unlike Red Sox fans, I don’t smell like feces.

            • Mike Axisa

              The difference is, unlike Red Sox fans, I don’t smell like feces.

              Sully, Uncle Sully, Smitty, and Little Sully disagree.

              • whozat

                You forgot O’Sull.

            • Whitey14

              Thankfully, I DO NOT resemble that remark ;-)

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      I even edited out yet another jab.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Oh, now we want to hear it.

        • Slugger27

          +1… expose it joe!!!

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          It was just another House that Roids Built comment.

          • steve (different one)

            pretty damn funny considering the 2 pieces of information (Manny/Merloni) that have come out in the last 4 days.

          • Jamal G.

            Funny, seeing as how Ortiz and Bay’s respective doubles in the ninth inning of Sunday night’s game would’ve been an out in the 29 other ballparks.

            • Whitey14

              Yes, and so wouldn’t dozens of the homeruns hit to right field in Yankee Stadium every year.

    • Whitey14

      Two questions:

      1. Did you expect anything different?

      2. Is it anything different than happens on Yankees blogs with stereotypical Yankee fans?

  • Corey

    lol @ the ad for “New York Yan-kees” jerseys for only $45…feels like im outside the stadium

  • A.D.

    A sweep of the Jays this week would be very much appreciated.

  • Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

    Sweeping the Jays would be nice but that would involve beating Halladay.

    Not exactly the easiest thing in the world.

  • tim randle

    i think i’m going crazy, but i dont really mind getting beaten teens to low single digits if we keep taking 2 of 3…so bring on the jays and lets do it!

  • Matt-Pitt

    Long as they take series they will be fine. I think things will start coming together for them.

  • Tom Zig

    So it’s official Jason Bay is having a contract year. Of course if you ask a Sox fan, their players are immune to that effect and just produce like that all the time.

    • Whitey14

      Well, I’m a Sox fan and rather than think he’ll continue his torrid pace all season I’m more of the mindset that he’s hot right now and his end of season numbers will probably end up tracking similarly to past seasons. Meaning, he’s due for a rough stretch, but should end up hitting around 30 homeruns and driving in 100 or so.

      I also think that any team who pays a guy based on his last year of a contract deserves the failure that so many of those contracts produce. The Sox have already stated a preference for re-signing Jason Bay and it was before his hot start. They did trade for him for a reason last year after all.

  • JGS

    This will be the first time the Jays are playing a team in the AL East not called the Orioles

    Halladay is 15-5, 2.86 in 30 starts against the Yankees. Yikes.