by Jason Clary, 1010 CBS Sports

After dropping two of  three games to the surprising Baltimore Orioles this past weekend, it’s apparent that the Tampa Bay Rays could have their hands full in the quest to win the packed American League East.

“The Orioles’ bullpen shut down the Rays over the weekend,” Justin Pawlowski, host of The Commish, said on his show. “Instead of the Rays making a statement against the Orioles, the Orioles made a statement against the Rays.”

Along with dropping the weekend series with Baltimore, there are rumors that left fielder Desmond Jennings could be heading to the disabled list soon with lingering symptoms from his sprained left knee.

With Evan Longoria already on the DL with a partially torn hamstring and the possibility of Jennings going on the DL, the Rays’ recent struggles could continue.

Even with a record of 21-14 — sitting one game behind the Orioles — the loss of Longoria, their offensive leader and star third baseman, has made it particularly hard on the team. Losing leadoff man Jennings would only make it that much harder for the Rays to keep pace in the log-jammed AL East.

It’s still early in the season, and even though they’re last in the division at 15-19, the Red Sox shouldn’t be overlooked.

Said Pawlowski: “The Red Sox are still hovering with lots of injuries. If any team can get hot, it’s the Red Sox with the talent on that roster. I think it’s ugly but I wouldn’t count them out yet.”

There’s no denying that the Red Sox and third-place Yankees (19-15) have talent, but with issues of pitching and staying healthy, both clubs’ seasons could hinge on another blockbuster trade at the trade-deadline of July 31.

Two names that could bring a heavy market are Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels and Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke. Both of these players are in their final contract year.

While merely speculation at this point, those pitchers should be at the top of the list when teams start dialing the phones closer to the deadline.

The season is still young and there is an endless array of outcomes that could change the landscape of the AL East by the end of the season. The new addition of an extra playoff wildcard spot also looks to make the late-season playoff push hectic at the very least.

Check out The Commish with Justin Pawlowski every day during the week from noon-3pm on and on the radio at 1010am.


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