USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - AL EAST - News and notes by Mau­reen Mullen Con­tribut­ing: Wire re­ports

Bal­ti­more Ori­oles

Zach Brit­ton’s Amer­i­can League record of con­vert­ing 60 con­sec­u­tive save chances was snapped Aug. 23, but there might have been a rea­son he gave up two runs to the Oak­land Ath­let­ics in just one-third of an in­ning.

Brit­ton has been deal­ing with sore­ness in his left knee since 2014, the first sea­son he pitched out of the bullpen. The streak be­gan on Oct. 1, 2015.

Brit­ton said the sore­ness was more sig­nif­i­cant while he warmed up on the day his streak ended. An MRI the next day re­vealed no struc­tural dam­age.

“The re­sults were good, and it’s not some­thing that should hin­der me from pitch­ing, like it hasn’t the last few years,” he said.

The streak was the sec­ond long­est in ma­jor league his­tory, be­hind only Eric Gagne’s 84. Dur­ing the streak, Brit­ton posted a 1.14 ERA with 95 strike­outs in 95 in­nings.

When the Ori­oles scored five runs in the sec­ond in­ning against the Bos­ton Red Sox on Aug. 26, it was the fourth time this sea­son they had scored five or more in a sin­gle in­ning against Bos­ton, all at Fen­way Park.

Kevin Gaus­man earned the win in that game to im­prove to 10-9, a ca­reer high in wins. In his last eight starts he has a 2.26 ERA and .229 op­po­nents’ av­er­age.

Bos­ton Red Sox

Rick Por­cello has had a dif­fi­cult time de­fend­ing his Cy Young Award ti­tle this sea­son, but in re­cent starts he ap­peared to be turn­ing the cor­ner.

He was 4-0 in his first four Au­gust starts, and in his last three out­ings of that span he had a 2.84 ERA and 17 strike­outs in 19 in­nings.

Then came one of the worst out­ings of his ca­reer. He al­lowed a ca­reer-high 11 runs in 42⁄ in­nings 3 on Aug. 25, al­though just four of those runs were earned, and the loss left him with a ma­jors-lead­ing 15 losses and a 4.57 ERA.

“I threw it, they hit it,” Por­cello said. “It’s just a mat­ter of ex­e­cut­ing pitches, and I didn’t do it at all.”

In that game the Red Sox al­lowed a sea­son-high 16 runs af­ter set­ting their pre­vi­ous sea­son worst the day be­fore — 13 runs al­lowed to Cleveland. It was Bos­ton’s first pair of con­sec­u­tive games al­low­ing 13 or more runs since 2006 and just its 11th such pair in the last 100 years.

The Red Sox com­mit­ted a sea­son-high five er­rors Aug. 25, their first five-er­ror game since 2001.

New York Yan­kees

Sonny Gray’s Aug. 26 out­ing was his best since join­ing the Yan­kees at the trade dead­line. It also was the first time he pitched on the an­niver­sary of his fa­ther’s death in 2004.

“I was def­i­nitely pitch­ing with a heavy heart out there,” Gray told

The New York Times. “A lot of peo­ple don’t know about it, but it’s a spe­cial day for me, and that made this win a lit­tle more spe­cial. … I’ve waited a long time to pitch on this date.”

Gray went seven in­nings, his long­est out­ing since he pitched eight in­nings on June 30, and gave up one run with nine strike­outs, his most since July 25. He has a 2.70 ERA in his first five starts with the Yan­kees but is 2-3. In the three losses the Yan­kees of­fense scored a to­tal of two runs.

“He’s han­dled that well,” man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said. “He just goes out and does his job. When we score runs, he wins.”

First base­man Greg Bird was in the lineup Aug. 26 for the first time in al­most four months. He had been side­lined by knee and an­kle in­juries.

“If he can swing like he was in spring train­ing and like he did in 2015, he could be a big ad­di­tion,” Gi­rardi said.

Aaron Judge was benched Aug. 28, and Gi­rardi said the plan was to avoid us­ing him at all for a day or two. Judge, who hit .329 with a 1.139 on-base-plus-slug­ging per­cent­age in the first half, was at .179 and .692 since the All-Star break. His home run ra­tio had dropped from one in ev­ery 10 at-bats to one in ev­ery 20.

Tampa Bay Rays

In five Au­gust starts, Blake Snell is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA, and he matched his sea­son high in his last two out­ings by go­ing seven in­nings in each.

The Rays’ first-round pick (52nd over­all) in 2011 has pitched at least six in­nings in all but one of his five starts this month af­ter go­ing more than six in­nings just twice this sea­son be­fore that.

“Blake was out­stand­ing, re­ally im­pressed again,” man­ager Kevin

Cash said. “I mean, I keep say­ing this, and hope­fully we con­tinue to keep say­ing this be­cause we need him to step up big for us, and he did tonight.

“There were a lot of things in his start that went wrong, not by his do­ing, just by a cou­ple of balls in the cor­ner and then we lost a ball up, and it didn’t faze him one bit. That’s a big step in the right di­rec­tion that he con­tin­ues mak­ing.”

Over­all, Snell is 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA af­ter go­ing 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA as a rookie in 2016.

With an er­ror on Aug. 26, the Rays fell one game short of ty­ing their team record of 10 con­sec­u­tive er­ror­less games. They have reached that mark three times, most re­cently in 2011.

Af­ter a long of­fen­sive dry spell ear­lier this month, the Rays scored six or more runs four times in a seven-game stretch last week. They had scored more runs this sea­son than two play­off con­tenders, the Kansas City Roy­als and Los An­ge­les An­gels, and they were fifth in the league in home runs.

Toronto Blue Jays

Josh Don­ald­son’s num­bers this sea­son are down be­cause of in­juries, but he showed his ver­sa­til­ity Aug. 26 when he went 3for-5 with a bunt sin­gle, a dou­ble, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.

“He’s got a com­plete game,” man­ager John Gib­bons said. “Not ev­ery­body has that, but he does.”

The three-hit game matched a sea­son high and snapped his 0-for-12 and 3-for-28 skids.

“I’ve been get­ting pounded in pretty much the last five or six games,” Don­ald­son said. “It was nice to make some­what of an ad­just­ment and get the bar­rel on the ball.”

The home run was Don­ald­son’s 11th in Au­gust and 23rd of the sea­son. He av­er­aged 39 the pre­vi­ous two years.

J. A. Happ has al­lowed five runs in each of his last two starts and has lost both, drop­ping his record to 7-12 with a 4.10 ERA. It is the first time he has al­lowed five or more runs in back-to-back starts since 2012.

“I’m not go­ing to feel good about that. That’s four games that I’m not go­ing to be able to help the team, and I know that they’re go­ing to need me. It’s not a good feel­ing.”

Yan­kees catcher Gary Sanchez, on his four-game sus­pen­sion for his part in the brawls that marred New York’s game against De­troit on Aug. 24


Aug. 26 was the first time Sonny Gray had pitched on the an­niver­sary of his fa­ther’s death. Gray went seven in­nings and gave up one run with nine strike­outs for the Yan­kees.

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