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Weekly AL East Recap: Winning Streak Increases Rays’ Lead

New York Yankees Aaron Judge

The AL East-leading Rays are on an eight-game winning streak, the longest in baseball now that the Yankees have lost a game.

The AL East contained the teams with the longest winning streak and losing streak last week, only for a different one to take up the mantle of hottest team.

First Place: Tampa Bay Rays (83-48)

The Rays are now on an eight-game winning streak after going 6-0 this week.  With Monday night’s win, they are now a team record 35 games over .500, surpassing the high point of their miracle 2008 season.  They still have work to do to keep such a high winning percentage, because September brings a tough schedule.  The AL East race isn’t quite over yet, either.

A whole mishmash of players homered this week, led by Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle hitting two each.  Jordan Luplow hit his first as a Ray, joining both catchers and the corner outfielders in the homer fest.  Wander Franco, all of 20-years-old, currently has the longest on base streak in the Majors, and he passed Mickey Mantle with 30 straight games as 20 years or younger.  He is now tied with Mel Ott.

The rookies are vaulting the veterans in the rotation, as the two best starts came from Shane McClanahan and Luis Patino.  The former threw the minimum required for a quality start while the latter was one out shy of reaching the threshold.  Michael Wacha, Chris Archer, and Ryan Yarbrough were all decent, but none got through five innings.  J.T. Chargois is proving to be another great find, as he logged two wins in a scoreless week.  Josh Fleming might be done in the rotation, as he gave up four runs in just one and a third last time out.

Second Place: New York Yankees (76-55, 7 games back)

The Yankees’ 13-game winning streak is over, and now they have lost three straight.  It is way too soon to be worried again since they already took over the first Wild Card spot, but they have to refocus with one month left.  They could still make an amazing run at the AL East crown, or they could fall out of the playoffs.

The superstars are mashing, as they need to.  Giancarlo Stanton hit three home runs and Aaron Judge hit two on ten hits for the week.  Joey Gallo homered but did little else, and his batting average with the Yankees is a paltry .149,  No amount of walks can make up for that.  Anthony Rizzo had the opposite week, hitting 6-18 with two doubles and nothing more, good enough for an .844 OPS.  Gallo could learn something from his new teammate.

Gerrit Cole is back to his old self by pitching six shutout innings.  Jordan Montgomery wasn’t far behind with one run allowed in six, and he is quietly up to 3.4 WAR for the year.  Corey Kluber, on the other hand, was far behind in his return from the IL, giving up five runs in four innings.  Jameson Taillon fell back to Earth with five runs in three and two thirds.  Jonathan Loaisiga pitched three more scoreless innings in an impressive season to date.

Third Place: Boston Red Sox (75-58, 9 games back)

A 4-3 week leaves the Red Sox in the same position: barely holding onto the second Wild Card Spot.  They might not be ready to concede the AL East just yet, but that day is coming.

Except for Monday, the offense scored a lot of runs this week.  Bobby Dalbec made up for lost time with four home runs, Rafael Devers hit three, and Kyle Schwarber added two.  After getting off a long bus ride, Jonathan Arauz hit a three-run shot to down Cleveland, his first of the season.  Yairo Muñoz had a hitting streak over 30 games at AAA, but that has not carried over to the Majors.

The rotation was fine for the week, not much stands out.  Eduardo Rodriguez went seven innings, tied for his longest of the year.  The news comes from the bullpen, where Matt Barnes lost the closer job and now is out with COVID-19 along with a few other players.  Adam Ottavino now has the ninth inning, and he got two saves this week.  Trade additions Austin Davis and Hansel Robles look like mistakes at this point.  Davis gave up three runs in four innings and took a loss, while Robles was even worse, giving up six runs in three innings with a loss.

Fourth Place: Toronto Blue Jays (69-61, 13.5 games back)

Just like the Red Sox, the Blue Jays went 4-3 to hold steady, which is not good enough.  They out of the AL East race and 4.5 games out of the Wild Card, so the time is now to make a run.  Sweeping the Orioles is a must before facing Oakland and New York.  George Springer is healthy once again, so a playoff spot is still possible.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. came roaring back Monday with a two-homer game, and Marcus Semien hit two in a game, as well.  Kevin Smith has had a lopsided debut, with his first home run and three walks, but just one other hit in 11 at bats.  Corey Dickerson has been a nice under-the-radar move, and he hit 6-16 this week.  After Santiago Espinal got hurt, the team claimed Jarrod Dyson off waivers, and he already has two steals.

Robbie Ray is making a run at the Cy Young award with two more good starts, allowing three runs in 14 innings.  Jose Berrios was better, though, giving up just an unearned run in seven innings.  Alek Manoah and Steven Matz also threw quality starts to continue their hot streaks.  Hyun Jin Ryu can redeem himself Tuesday after a clunker against the White Sox, who always kill lefties.  Jordan Romano added two saves in a scoreless week.

Fifth Place: Baltimore Orioles (40-90, 33.5 games back)

Not only did the Orioles end their 19-game losing streak, they took the Series from the LA Angels.  They hit five home runs off of Shohei Ohtani, and then pounded out 13 runs in a blowout finale.  The Rays were not as giving over the weekend.

The offense has actually played well lately, and that is led by the M&M’s.  Cedric Mullins hit three home runs, and Ryan Mountcastle hit two.  The rookie has turned his season around with a 1.208 OPS in August.  Austin Hays went 9-17 this week, including a home run.  A team that rarely takes walks is now drawing ball four, as four players drew at least three walks this week.  D.J. Stewart led the trot parade with five walks.  Pedro Severino hit a grand slam to put away the Angel rubber match.

Keegan Akin had by far his best start of the season, going seven innings in the blowout, allowing just one run.  Waiver claim Chris Ellis is earning a rotation spot with one run in 4.2 innings Monday.  John Means returned to form with a quality start, and Matt Harvey also got through six innings.  But, the magic ran out for Spenser Watkins, and he was demoted Monday.  The same is true of Paul Fry, who has really fallen on hard times.  The four relievers we thought were somewhat reliable have been total messes lately.  They will get more chances to turn things around, though.

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