AL East, May 1 edition

by Bill Chuck on May 1, 2012

The AL East is the only division with every team .500 or better.

The Tampa Rays (15-8) did all the things you’re supposed to do to win your decision. They won six of 10 games intra-division. They were 9-1 at home, they were 5-1 in one-run games, and they were 6-1 against teams under .500. Evan Longoria hit .329, with four homers and 19 RBI and Carlos Pena hit .286 (!) and Luke Scott and Matt Joyce each had five homers. However, Longoria will be out 6-8 weeks with a hammy.  James Shields is 4-0, Jeremy Hellickson is 3-0, and David Price is 4-1.

The Baltimore Orioles (14-9) are off to a great start and that is really good to see. They are 8-4 at home. The big story here is that their starting pitching has a 3.03 ERA, fifth best in the majors. According to our friends at Elias: their 2-1 loss to the Yankees last night ended a 58-game winning streak in games in which they allowed two or fewer runs. They are still 3-2 in one run games. The most impressive part of this team is their new bullpen which has put together a 1.83 ERA, the best in baseball.

The New York Yankees (13-9) have proven the axiom that you can never have enough pitching. The Yanks are third in runs scored which is a really good thing because their starter are 29th with a 6.08 ERA. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are each 3-0, but CC has a 4.58 ERA and Ivan has 5.18 ERA. Freddy Garcia is out of the rotation and will bring his 12.51 ERA to the bullpen. The bullpen is another story however. Mariano Rivera is still great, his heir apparent, 8th-inning guy David Robertson has not been scored in 11 appearances, and 7th inning guy Rafael Soriano is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA. The pen has a 2.00 ERA. Derek Jeter has “slumped” to .386, Curtis Granderson has eight homers. Nick Swisher has 23 RBI but is injured and the team misses Brett Gardner.

The Toronto Blue Jays (12-11) should be better than a .522 team but they are 6-10 against teams over .500. The numbers tell the story: the team is 21st in batting average hitting .239 and 14th in team ERA at 3.79. The bullpen has a 4.59 ERA, which has hurt because the starters have a 3.41 ERA ninth in the majors. The batters are second in the majors with a .321 avg with runners in scoring position. One of the biggest, and underwritten, stories in baseball is the struggles of Jose Bautista who is hitting .181 with three homers and 10 RBI. Edwin Encarnacion has been a very effective DH with eight homers and 21 RBI to go along with his .322 avg. While the batters look passive on first pitches hitting just .254, here’s a fascinating stat: for both 1-0 and 0-1 counts the Jays are hitting an identical .283. However, they have seen 62 1-0 counts vs. 96 0-1 counts. They need to go a little more after those first pitch fastballs.

The Boston Red Sox (11-11) have to consider this first month a success, but being at .500 is not a destination, but rest stop. They are 7-11 against teams over .500 and have looked overmatched. The pitching has improved, but a 5.28 team ERA is nothing for the starters to brag about. The bullpen still has a major league worst 6.10. On the other hand, they have scored 127 runs, the most in the bigs. Their .281 avg. is second best in baseball and their 89 extra base hits is the most in the game. If David Ortiz would have on Weight Watchers meal he could be a great spokesperson. The Slimmed Down Papi is hitting .405 with six homers and 20 RBI, he’s hitting .382 against righties and .423 (!) against lefties. Losing Jacoby Ellsbury has been huge but since the Sox never had a potent Carl Crawford his loss hasn’t been felt. Marlon Byrd has added maturity, stability and attitude to the team that shouldn’t be underestimated (they are 7-1 with him in center). He was not the kind of guy that Theo Epstein would acquire; oh wait, he was the one who dumped him from the Cubs. Don’t be misled by Clay Buchholz‘s 3-1 record. He has a 8.69 ERA and in each of his five starts he’s given up at least five runs. Objectively speaking, there is nothing to be particularly impressed with on the Sox mound.

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