COMMENTARY | It's July and the American League East continues to be one of the most competitive divisions in Major League Baseball. There were even times in June when all five teams were above .500 at the same time. It will be entertaining to watch how this battle plays out as the All-Star break draws near.
Boston Red Sox- Blown saves haven't derailed the Red Sox yet, as Boston enters July on top of the division. Boston continues to get quality starts and timely hitting, two key factors for their first place performance.
Looking Up- The backside of the rotation got the job done in June. John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Ryan Dempster, and spot-started Alfredo Aceves all had sub-4.00 ERAs for the month, giving the Red Sox lineup plenty of support.
Looking Down- The closer role is still the key issue. Koji Uehara has performed well (2 for 3 so far), but it's a small sample-size. Though if it continues the Red Sox will finally have a consistent bullpen lineup.
Baltimore Orioles- Another solid month has kept the Orioles right in the thick of things in the American League East. The lineup continues to be one of the best in the league, while the starting staff continues to improve.
Looking Up- Another unreal month for Chris Davis. The slugger belted 12 HRs in June with 30 RBIs. He is now hitting .332 with 31 HR's and 80 RBIS on the season. He is unquestionably an MVP candidate, but also has to be talked about as a Triple-Crown candidate.
Looking Down- What has happened to Matt Wieters? This is the second straight season in which his production has fallen off. There's still another half season to play in 2013, but to this point Wieters isn't living up to potential.
Tampa Bay Rays- The Rays continue to hang in with decent pitching and a surprisingly productive offense. Winning eight of their last 12 games has put them just three games out of a wild card spot.
Looking Up- Everyone was waiting for Wil Myers' debut, and it hasn't been disappointing. Myers is hitting .293 with three home runs and 10 RBIs since being called up on June 18. The 22 year-old is certainly proving that he can be an everyday player.
Looking Down- Desmond Jennings continues to have a tough 2013 season. He is hitting just .252 (.245 in June) with an OBP of .318 (2.97 in the last month). The Rays were hoping Jennings was ready to make the step up to the next level as a pro. However, he is on a similar path as last year.
New York Yankees- The Bronx Bombers are starting to slip. New York lost five straight before last night's win to start out the month. Injuries and inconsistent bats have really put the pressure on the pitching staff to keep the team in the race. Even more will be asked of them now that the Yankees find themselves down six games in the division.
Looking Up- It sounds like a broken record, but this has to go to Mariano Rivera. The 43 year-old had seven more saves in June, and now totals 26 on the season. Rivera has a 1.50 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in his final season in the majors. Not his best numbers ever, but still some of the best in the league.
Looking Down- The lineup in general was a disaster in June. The team hit just 2.23 on the month, producing just 18 HRs and 87 RBIs. While injuries continue to be a burden, nobody is stepping up unlike earlier in the year.
Toronto Blue Jays- From pretender to contender? Maybe. It was quite a month for the Blue Jays, going 17-9, which included an 11-game winning streak. Starting pitching has considerably improved for a team that seemed completely done at the start of June. Toronto now enters the summer in contention for a playoff birth.
Looking Up- R.A. Dickey has turned his season around and is showing why he was a Cy Young winner last year. He went 3-1 in June, with an ERA of 3.71. Dickey will need to keep this form if the Blue Jays want to stay in the hunt. So far so good, considering he is already 1-0 in July after a solid performance on Canada Day on July 1.
Looking Down- Josh Johnson had a promising start to the month. However, the righty has fallen back on hard times, with an ERA of 5.21. Johnson has gone over six innings just twice this season in nine starts, undoubtedly putting a lot of pressure on an already spent bullpen.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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