The Week Ahead: Cobb Returns, Rays & AL Contenders
There are 7 weeks left to the major league baseball season and the scoreboard watching season has arrived. ?A quick glance at the American League divisions reveals only the Detroit Tigers holding a comfortable lead - a 7-game lead over the Cleveland Indians. In the AL East the Red Sox hold a 3 game lead over the Rays and the Texas Rangers hold a slim 1-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the West.
In preparation for the week ahead we'll take a quick look at the week that was for the playoff contenders and see who and where they are playing the upcoming week.
Boston Red Sox (71-49, AL East Leader [4-games ahead of Rays])
The Red Sox will have an off-day Monday in the ?middle of their 3-city 10 game road trip. Thus far they have gone by taking 2 out of 3 from the Houston Astros and out off four from the suddenly surging Kansas City Royals.
After Monday's off day the Red Sox will travel north of the border to take on the Toronto Blue Jays (54-63) before returning home for a weekend series with the New York Yankees (59-57).
Tampa Bay Rays (66-50, 3.0 games back , tied for Wild Card lead)
The Rays return home from an unpleasant road trip dropping all 5 games including a heart breaking loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night which included ?letting a 6-3 lead slip away in the 9th inning against the Dodgers on Friday night.
They will have an off-day on Monday before welcoming in the Seattle Mariners (53-63) and then the Toronto Blue Jays (54-63).
Besides the comfort of return home the upcoming week will feature the return of Alex Cobb to the rotation. Cobb (6-2, 3.01 ERA) has not pitched since being struck by a line drive off the bat of the Kansas City Royals Eric Hosmer on June 15th.
Baltimore Orioles ?(66-52, 4.5 back, 1.5 in Wild Card)
The Orioles began their 8-game 3-city road trip by taking both their games against the San Diego Padres before going to San Francisco and 2 out of 3.
They finish their road trip this week with a 3-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (59-57) and after an off day on Thursday will take on the Colorado Rockies (55-64) back in Baltimore.
Detroit Tigers (69-47, lead division by 7 games)
Opened the week by sweeping the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland before losing 2 out of 3 to the Yankees.
They will finish their road trip with a 3-game series against the hapless Chicago White Sox (44-72) before they retrun home to battle the upstart Kansas City Royals in a big 5-game (4-day) series.
Cleveland Indians (63-55, 7 games back, 4 games in Wild Card)
The Indians had a disastrous week in their quest to remain a contender going 1-6 on an important 7-game home stand which included a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers and 2 of 3 to the struggling Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians will hope to revive their playoff hopes on the road. ?Their first stop is in Minnesota for a 3-game series against the Twins (52-63) and then after an off day Thursday will head to Oakland to take on the A's (66-50) for a 3-game weekend series.
Kansas City Royals (61-54, 7.5 games back, 4.5 games in Wild Card)
The Royals opened the week by taking ?two out three from the Minnesota Twins and then took 3 out of 4 from the Boston Red Sox.
They open the week hosting the Miami Marlins (44-72) ?before heading to Detroit to take on the Tigers (69-47) in a 5-game series in what may be the most important series for Royals baseball in two decades.
Texas Rangers (68-50, lead division by 1 game)
The Rangers opened the week by sweeping the Los Angeles Angels before heading to Houston for a 4-game wrap around series with the Astros.
After winning the first 3-games of the series the Rangers will look for the 4-game sweep on Monday before heading home for a brief two game series with the Milwaukee Brewers (51-67). ?After an off-day on Thursday they will take on the Seattle Mariners (54-63) over the weekend.
Oakland Athletics (66-50, 1-game back, tied with Rays for Wild Card lead)
The A's opened the week on the road and lost both their games to the Cincinnati Reds before heading to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays in a 4-game wrap around series.
The A's won 2 of the first 3 games and will look for the series win on Monday before heading home to take on the the Houston Astros (37-79) for three games and then the Cleveland Indians (63-55) for a weekend series.