The first week post All-Star break is in the books with a number of teams making runs in improving their division and wild card standings. Here’s a look at what some of the hottest and coldest teams did over the course of last week as the 2012 regular season heads into the month of August.
Oakland A’s (5-1, $535): Manager Bob Melvin’s Athletics are now the talk of the AL West, and for that matter, the rest of the league after just pulling off a four-game home sweep of the New York Yankees. Oakland has long possessed solid pitching staffs, but didn’t have the offense to back it up. That has not been the case in 2012 with Josh Reddick and Yeonis Cespedes launching balls out of the park (101 home runs) on a consistent basis. Oakland’s ability to create havoc on the basepaths (73 steals) has also given this offense more favorable situations to work with.
On The Docket: Oakland will attempt to continue its upward ascension within the AL West – now 5 1/2-games back – on the road this upcoming week with three scheduled to go in Toronto and Baltimore. The A’s are 13-8 vs. the AL East and 22-23 ($655) as visitors.
Detroit Tigers (6-1, $492): It’s been a joy to be a Tigers fan recently! Manager Jim Leyland’s squad clawed itself over the .500 mark right before the All-Star break and returned from it a house on fire having won eight of their 10 overall games played. That stretch of hot play was capped off over the weekend with a dominating home sweep of the Chicago White Sox. In doing so, the Tigers surpassed them in the AL Central standings. This club is finally playing like the one baseball pundits expected to see at the outset of the season. If upper management adds another arm in the starting rotation, look out!
On The Docket: The Tigers will be out to add more cushion to their division lead with three in Cleveland before closing out the week in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Miguel Cabrera and his mates have won five of their L/7 away from Comerica Park, but have dropped five of six to the Tribe.
Baltimore Orioles (5-2, $429): Just when you thought it was safe to write off Manager Buck Showalter’s O’s, they rattle off five straight wins to catapult themselves back into the division and wild card races. With the Yankees having just dropped four in a row, Adam Jones and company now trail New York by just six-games in the AL East and are tied with Oakland for the second wild card slot. Provided the starting pitching can hold up and or add a viable arm to the rotation, this club should fight for a playoff spot the remainder of the season due to its ability to hit the long ball (120 home runs) and top notch bullpen.
On The Docket: The Orioles will look to pull the four-game sweep against the Tribe on Monday before returning home for enormous matchups with the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s. Baltimore currently sits a game over .500 at home on the year (23-22, $95).
Honorable Mentions: Pittsburgh Pirates (5-1, $411), Arizona Diamondbacks (5-2, $339), Los Angeles Dodgers (4-2, $279), San Diego Padres (5-2, $274), Cincinnati Reds (5-2, $246)
Houston Astros (1-6, -$478): The white flag has officially been raised in Houston! Upper management pulled off a number of trades last week in hopes of bettering the franchise for when they start matching wits with American League opposition down the road. As it is right now, the offense has been stripped of most of its power with SS Jed Lowrie on the DL and Carlos Lee being sent to Miami. An already bad pitching staff (#28 with a 4.63 ERA) could get even worse if there are any Wandy Rodriguez takers over the next week. This squad will be heavily dogged throughout the remainder of the season, so if you plan on backing them in any one spot, make sure the scenario is ripe for the big dog to bark!
On The Docket: Though the Astros have been at their best within the comfy confines of Minute Maid Park (24-21, $701), they face a steep uphill climb with both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh paying visits this upcoming week; Houston’s 13-20 within the division to date.
New York Mets (1-5, -$473): Metropolitan fans are hoping that 2012 is not a mirror image of the last two seasons. New York went on to post productive first halves in both 2010 and 2011 only to falter down the stretch and be irrelevant in the NL East race. The same has occurred in 2012 with the Mets posting a +.500 first half, but manager Terry Collins’s squad has dropped eight of its first nine since the Midsummer Classic and now finds itself 8.5-games out in the division and 5.5-games behind the Braves for the second wild card slot. This club just did itself absolutely no favor at all by just allowing the Dodgers to sweep them in their own backyard.
On The Docket: The Mets will look to pick up the pieces back at home with three against the NL East leading Washington Nationals before heading to the desert on Friday for the first of what could be a daunting 11-game road trip versus the NL West. NY currently sits four-games under .500 as a visitor (21-25, $141).
Chicago White Sox (1-6, -$443): Though the White Sox did most things right over the course of the first-half of the season, not many believed the squad was as good as its record or first place position stated it was. Manager Robin Ventura’s squad has relinquished the top spot in the AL Central for the first time since the end of June, but it’s still well within the playoff picture at 1.5-games out in both the division and wild card races. Still, the schedule is going to prove to be a grind the remainder of the month with only three of their next nine games coming at home (24-22, -$326).
On The Docket: The Palehose will return home to battle the pesky Minnesota Twins for three in their first home series since the All-Star break, but Paul Konerko and his mates will then hit the road again for three in Arlington. Schedule makers better not run into any White Sox fans this off-season!
Dishonorable Mentions: Cleveland Indians (2-5, -$385), Miami Marlins (2-5, -$335), New York Yankees (3-4, -$241), Colorado Rockies (2-4, -$234)