6. Baltimore Orioles (20–10, plus-11, LT: 6)
The Orioles could play 1000 more games and probably not have a week more tumultuous than the one they just went through.
On Monday, Adam Jones had peanuts, as well as racial slurs, hurled at him by Fenway faithful. On Tuesday, the Red Sox continued their retaliation over an aggressive Manny Machado April slide by having Chris Sale throw behind the Orioles star in the first inning, leading to more posturing and errant pitches. On Wednesday, Sam Holbrook took umpire incompetence to new heights, ejecting Kevin Gausman for throwing a looping curveball that hit Xander Bogaerts, as if any pitcher would try to injure or frighten another team with a lollipop pitch.
The capper came on Friday, when starter Wade Miley got knocked out in the first inning after being bonked by two line drives, and the O’s announced after the game that All-Star closer Zach Britton had suffered a setback in his recovery from a forearm injury.
Through all that, the Orioles went 5–2, and own the third-best record in the majors. Even without Britton, the bullpen continues to lock down opponents late in games, with replacement closer Brad Brach anchoring a crew that’s got Baltimore up to its old tricks in close games (7–1 in one-run games, 4–1 in extra innings). Seth Smith and Jonathan Schoop have provided surprisingly potent hitting. Meanwhile, Miley and Dylan Bundy have been godsends for a rotation hamstrung by Chris Tillman’s season-long shoulder injury, and Gausman has turned into a pumpkin for no obvious reason.
You could argue that Baltimore’s outgunned on a straight talent level by one or more AL East rivals yet again this year, with the Yankees and Red Sox delivering flashier higher-upside players and individual numbers. Then again, this is a team that’s made a habit of smashing projections to smithereens. So far this season, it’s happening again.