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Rays Face Tough Road Trip to N. L. West

Jeremy HellicksonThe American League East standings could depend a lot on how the National League West race shakes out in the next week. The red-hot Tampa Bay Rays are going into the week one half game behind the Boston Red Sox (tied in the loss column) before heading to face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday and Wednesday and the division leading and equally red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Rays are coming off a five game home stand against the N. L. West where they finished 3-2. They split a two-game series with the D-Backs (the only series they haven’t won in their last eleven) and took two of three from the last place San Francisco Giants. They will gladly take those results this week. The Rays have won 28 of their last 35 games, yet still remain a half game behind the Sox. Boston lost to the Houston Astros on Monday 2-0 thanks to seven shutout innings from Brett Oberholtzer. The Sox will face the Astros two more games before beginning a four game series with an equally hot Kansas City Royals on Thursday. The Royals are entertaining playoff hopes of their own for the first time in a long while.

Only 2.5 games ahead of Kansas City in the A.L. Wild Card race is the Baltimore Orioles who are only one game behind the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. The Orioles are also on an N. L. West road trip as they will face the San Diego Padres and the Giants this week. Chris Davis is starting to heat up again so watch out for them. With the easiest schedule of the three this week, this is a great chance for them to make up some ground.

Meanwhile, the New York Yankees are dealing with the Alex Rodriguez mess. He made his 2013 debut on Monday against the Chicago White Sox, but it didn’t help as the Yanks were spanked 8-1. A-Rod’s season will be very short as most expect him to be done after Wednesday’s game for the rest of this season. This all be ensures the Yankees will not be a factor in the playoff race. Without A-Rod and Derek Jeter, who just can’t seem to get healthy, the Yankees have scored only 421 runs. They are the only team in the A.L. East with less than 500.

Here is an alarming stat if you are a Yankees fan. Yankees third basemen (A-Rod’s position) have hit four homers this season. Chicago Cubs pitchers have hit five. That tells you all you need to know about the Yankees chances.

Then there is the team most thought would win the division if the Yanks didn’t, the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto is dead last in the A. L. East. However, scoring runs has not been the issue for the Jays. It has been the pitching (or lack of) that has devastated their season. Toronto has scored 513 runs which makes them one of only nine MLB teams to crack 500 so far. The problem is they have allowed 542 which is second in the American League only to the Astros. Josh Johnson has been awful. R. A. Dickey has been mediocre. Mark Buerhle has been nothing special. The pitching is so bad even the Jays potent offense hasn’t been able to out score it.

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