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Monday, April 23, 2007

Baltimore Orioles Continue Red Hot Play

By David

Five games into the 2007 season the O's were 1-4, but since then they have compiled a 10-3 record. They are coming off a three-game sweep of the division rival Blue Jays and have now catapult into second place in the AL East.

After watching the Orioles down at spring training in Ft.Lauderdale this year I got the sense that they were an improved team from last season, but were still missing that compliment pitcher to Erik Bedard and hitter to Miguel Tejada.

Through the first three weeks of the season manager Sam Perlozzo has his team playing exceptionally well, but the next two weeks of their schedule will lend be an indicator if they can contend with the elite teams in the American League. The O's open a three-game series at home tonight against the A's and then travel to Cleveland and Detroit.

Offensively this season Baltimore has seen strong play out of several hitters. Nick Markakis is a star in the making and is currently batting .284 with three long balls and 14 batted in. Third baseman Melvin Mora and team leader Miguel Tejada have started off the season hot, but it will be critical for them to continue their success throughout the duration of the season. A strong year out of Mora would be key to the O's contending.

Unfortunately, second baseman Brian Roberts and outfielders Jay Gibbons and Corey Patterson have not begun the season on high notes. Patterson needs to be more aggressive on the base pads and Gibbons must display his power if his team expects to improve on last season. Zero home runs in 56 at bats is unacceptable for a man with his potential.

New York Yankees' Struggle Against Boston Red Sox'

By David

After a three-game sweep of the Indians at the stadium the Yankees were confident heading into their weekend series with the arch rival Red Sox'. Optimism would quickly transform into a state of panic as New York was outplayed brutally by Boston and was unable to salvage one victory in the series.

Many people can use the excuse that the Sox had their three best pitchers [Schilling, Beckett and Matsuzaka] lined up against Pettitte, Karstens and Wright, but despite who the Yankees throw out there they are expected to be victorious. The starting rotation was not aided by a poor performance by Mariano Rivera and the rest of the bullpen.

Rivera imploded in the bottom of the eighth Friday night as he surrendered two runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning. His ERA now stands at an inflated 8.44 and his record is 1-2 after his second blown save of the season. If Mo continues to struggle the Bronx Bombers have no chance of overtaking the Red Sox and winning the division. With the abundance of talent in the AL New York might possibly be on the outside looking in come playoff time. I still expect Rivera to rebound and for the Yankees to reach the playoffs and possibly return to the World Series.

Saturday afternoon Jeff Karstens made his season debut for the Yanks and allowed seven runs over 4.1 innings. David Ortiz lit up Karstens for a 2-run double and a 2-run home run. Surprisingly, the Yankees bullpen kept Boston's sluggers at bay for the rest of the evening as they pitched 3.2 innings of shut out baseball. In the end, the Yankees fell to Boston for the second straight game by the score of 7-5.

In an attempt to salvage the third game of the series the Yankees preserved their mark in the record books. Unfortunately, this is a record that Joe Torre and his players are not proud of. In his second career major league start, Chase Wright surrendered four consecutive home runs to the Red Sox' hitters. Manny Ramirez started the hit parade with a blast to left field and he was followed by J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. In a span of 10 pitches Wright's pitching career was changed forever.

Entering Monday, the Yankees stand four games out of first place. New York has 147 games remaining on the schedule and while fans will begin to worry about their early season lack of success, I don't begin to get concerned until August when the games start to carry some merit.

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