The Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held tonight in Los Angeles. That means the 162-game season has reached its half.  Let’s review the AL East team performances so far this year.


New York Yankees (56-32)

The defending World Champions have the best record in baseball for the first half of the season.  Their offensive lineup has been very consistent, generating hits and runs day-in and day-out.  Unlike last year, when they started the season slowly, Joe Girardi’s team has an impressive 20-11 record against teams in the division and has won 21 of 28 series.



The Yankees are doing very well offensively.  Second baseman Robinson Cano, being on top in almost every offensive category (.336 AVG, 115 H, 51 R, 68 RBI, .556 SLG), is surely a strong candidate for this year’s AL MVP.

Alex Rodriguez hit 14 home runs to bring his career total to 597, seventh-best all-time.  Nick Swisher is getting on base constantly and Brett Gardner can run, ranking fifth in the league with 25 steals.  Mark Teixeira, hitting .254, may not repeat his number last year (.292), but there are still a good two-and-a-half months of baseball for him to catch up.



Starting pitchers Phil Hughes, C.C. Sabathia, and Andy Pettitte have been pitching extremely well, combining to win 34 victories for the Yankees so far, and they all have 10 wins or more.  Javier Vazquez (7-7, 4.45) had a terrible season debut, but has been improving gradually.  40-year-old closer Mariano Rivera (20 saves) seems rejuvenated this season.


Tampa Bay Rays (54-34)

The Rays started the year strong, but they have cooled down since mid-June.  However, through last Sunday, they are only two games behind the Yankees, which proves that they can still keep up with the Yankees to compete for the playoff spot.



The offensive power relies heavily on the middle of their lineup: LF Carl Crawford, 1B Carlos Pena, and 3B Evan Longoria.

Nine years into his career, Crawford is sixth in the AL in hits this season (106), first in runs scored (70), and second in steals (31).  Clean-up hitter Pena is eighth in home runs with 18 and walks tied for third with 51 walks.  With Evan Longoria, they combine to score 117 runs, almost 38 percent of the team total in first half of the year.



All-Star starting pitcher David Price and Matt Garza lead the Rays pitching rotation. Price has an impressive 12-4 record with a 2.42 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.  His fastball can reach 97 mph consistently.  He and Garza (10-5) are the only 10-game winners on the team. Third-best goes to James Shields (7-9).  Besides, no Rays starter has more than 10 losses (Wade Davies has nine).  Closer Rafael Soriano has done a good job with 33 saves and just one blown save.  He can also be seen in All-Star Game in Anaheim.


Boston Red Sox (51-37)

The Red Sox had a slow start from the beginning of Opening Day. People seemingly believed it would be a forgotten season for the team.  While they were talking mostly about the race between the Yankees and the Rays, Terry Francona’s team is back in the playoff race.

However, luck is not on their side.

The lineup is infected with a massive number of injuries.  These injuries took immediate effect, as the Sox were swept by the Rays last week.



David Ortiz is one of the reasons why the Sox were not successful at the beginning of the year. He only hit .143 and with one home run in the month of April.

He’s caught up now with 18 home runs (tied for eighth in the AL) and the Sox rank second in total home runs with 118.  3B Adrian Beltre and SS Marco Scutaro consistently reach base with 107 and 101 hits respectively.  The third-best goes to 1B Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedrioa (86 each).

The Red Sox have six players on the 15-day DL: Captain, C Jason Varitek (foot), C Victor Martinez (thumb), 2B Dustin Pedroia (foot), Mike Lowell (hip), and OFs Jeremy Hermida (rib) and Jacoby Ellsbury (rib).  Catcher Kevin Cash was acquired to fill in the empty catcher spot for now.  The organization should be worried offensively and defensively to start the second half.


Boston has a team ERA of 4.34 (fifth-worst in the league) and walks 314 opposing batters (fourth-worst).

To contend in AL East, they need to post better numbers, especially from starting pitching.  Daisuke Matsuzaka has not been very consistent.  Besides knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (5.22), John Lackey has the worst ERA (4.78) on the team. His numbers seem to decline year by year.

Jon Lester (11-3) and injured Clay Buchholz (10-4) are the only 10-game winners.  Other injury casualties include SP Josh Beckett (lower back spasm) and reliever Manny Delcarmen (right forearm). 


Toronto Blue Jays (44-45)

Who would have thought that the Jays could lead the Major Leagues in home runs?  Out of Toronto’s 404 runs scored, 136 of them were caused by home runs—the best in baseball.  However, they will not be a real threat in AL East.  Their sub-.500 record is just not good enough to compete with the three big guns in the division.



Eight Blue Jays already have 10 home runs or more: 3B/RF Jose Bautista (24), CF Vernon Wells (19), SS Alex Gonzalez (17), C John Buck (13), 2B Aaron Hill (12), LF/DH Adam Lind (12), 1B Lyle Overbay (10), and 3B Edwin Encarnacion (10).

But the home run is the sole offensive category that is impressive.  The team only hits .240 collectively, fourth-worst in the majors, and only has an on-base percentage of .306.  They also have the third-worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.240).  These figures explain why the Jays are barely a .500 ball club.



With the departure of the “Doc,” Roy Halladay, manager Cito Gaston cannot find a true ace.  Brett Cecil leads the team with eight wins, the most among starting pitchers.  Shaun Marcum (7-4) has the best starter ERA (3.44). He is currently injured (elbow inflammation), and will be back after the All-Star break. 


Baltimore Orioles (29-59)

No one would expect Orioles to escape out of the cellar.

Although mathematically possible, they still have 78 games to play to get out of the bottom of the division.  Chances are it will not happen.  Thirty games under .500 is sad.  The firing of manager Dave Tremblay in June was appropriate, but the organization has yet to find a long-term replacement to lead the team.



Losing star second baseman Brian Roberts at the beginning of the season to the 60-day DL (herniated disc in lower back) was crucial to Orioles’ failure.  The team seemed to lose direction from the start.  Its offense mainly comes from RF Nick Markakis, leader in team avg (.308), and CF Adam Jones who has 14 home runs (tied with 1B Ty Wigginton for team lead) and scored 44 runs (most on the team).


Bad pitching will make you lose games.  Ask the Orioles if you don’t believe me.

No Oriole starting pitcher has more than five wins.  David Hernandez’s four victories is a team-high.  The ace, Kevin Millwood, is injured, and had horrible first half (2-8, 5.77 ERA, 1.58 WHIP).

The rotation also consists of veteran Jeremy Guthrie (3-10, 4.77), Brad Bergesen (3-6, 6.40), Brian Matusz (3-9, 4.77), and rookie Jake Arrieta (3-2, 4.38).  A consolation prize belongs to closer Alfredo Simon (2-1, 13 saves, 3.24 ERA), as the management seems to have found a stable reliever to close games.




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