AL East Round-up: Separating the pack edition

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Aug 27, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a solo home run during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles (78-56)

Manager Buck Showalter has his team gearing up for the postseason with a big cushion to sit back and relax. Being ahead by eight games in the division to start September does that to you. Knowing Showalter’s personality, however, it will not be with a smile as much as a warming heart… that he doesn’t show. To be fair, no good manager would ever take the foot off the gas and not worry about the little things that make his team run smoothly. Although, having a 98% probability, according to MLB.com, of making the postseason in what is supposedly the hardest division in baseball (don’t laugh, it’s been true for years) will make any manager’s life a bit less stressful.

The team went 6-4 for the last 10 days, which is not horrible to be above .500, and traded for Kelly Johnson. With Manny Machado being out for the season with knee surgery, the Orioles were looking to give their infield a bit more depth and experience. It took Johnson just over three years to have officially played for all of the AL East teams. It does not seem that the move will have too much of an impact, as how much can be expected of a player who has been moved so many times in so short a time. However, it does give Showalter another option if needed. Johnson being recently off of the DL will make it interesting how he is utilized.

The team also traded Minor League pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar to the Chicago White Sox for Alejandro De Aza, who is batting .243 with 5 home runs and 15 stolen bases. MLB.com reported Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette saying, “He’s a multi-talented outfielder…He’s good in left, he can play center field, he had two very good years in ’12 and ’13, where he hit for power, and he gives us a veteran outfielder who we can use to supplement our team.”

The other major injury to watch is Steve Pearce. The outfielder recently left the lineup injured. An MRI confirmed a strain in his abdomen, but luckily for the Orioles there was no tear. He is listed as day-to-day. The Baltimore Sun reported Pearce saying, “It’s just what I thought. Wanted to take care of it before it got out of hand. I think right now we’re just working on day-to-day. Hopefully in the next couple of days, it will get better and I can get back to working on baseball activities…I think we got out in front of this where it will be easy to treat and I’ll be able to be day-to-day.” This week, before the injury, Pearce was hitting .300, with 3 home runs and a stolen base. He will be missed, but should take it easy to heal up for an expected long run in the postseason.

A few Orioles have been picking up the slack lately for the injured. Chris Davis crushed a grand slam this week against the Twins to pad his RBI stat at 8 runs; however, his .150 batting average and 6 strikeouts are not helping the cause. He, at least, has increased his on-base percentage at .308 by taking 5 walks this week. Delmon Young also deserves a lot of credit, hitting . 294 with 5 RBIs. Even the recent fill-in third baseman, Jimmy Paredes got in on the action, hitting a home run and 2 RBIs to win against the Twins. The team hit 11 home runs in the last 7 days, which have helped them come back in a number of games when behind.

The pitching staff has not given up many runs, the worst being Bud Norris giving up four runs against the Tampa Bay Rays. If the offence keeps it up, the pitching staff can relax and tune up for October.

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