Your Tuesday Morning Power Rankings

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Rays conversing.jpgSorry it’s a day late, but there were only four games last night, so it’s not like the balance of power shifted since yesterday afternoon.  If you’re still upset, though, just sign these forms and you’ll get your money back in sixty days. What? Well, now, that’s what you agreed to when you bought your shares! Look, I know old man Potter is paying fifty cents on the dollar, but if he gets his hand on this blog there’ll never be another decent blog post written in this town again . . .

1. Rays: And it’s not even close. They’re being chased by the best second team in baseball, and they still have the biggest lead of all the first place teams.

2. Phillies: Not a pretty series against the Red Sox, and losing Jimmy Rollins again isn’t a good thing, but they’re basically keeping an even keel despite a few less-than-stellar Roy Halladay starts in a row, so they’re doing OK.

3. Yankees: They’re either about to feast on the Indians, Orioles and Astros in upcoming series, or else they’re about to become the subject of even more “are the Yankees getting old” articles. I’m betting feast and would prefer to see it because I like to see great teams do great things, but if they stumble it will be much easier to write this blog for the next couple of months, that’s for damn sure.

4. Twins: I don’t believe in jinxes and stuff — as a wise and beautiful fictitious woman once said,  “please explain to me the scientific nature of ‘the whammy'” — but I guess Minnesota has a chance to show everyone that they can finally beat the Yankees this week. And if they can’t do it now, when everyone is all beat up, jeez, when can they?

5. Cardinals: The Cardinals reasserting themselves in the Central after a week or so of the Reds in first place is probably an instance of order being restored, but it’s sort of deflating too given how much fun we were having with the Reds in charge. Kind of like when Sgt. Hulka returned to the unit after Winger got them through the end of basic training.

6. Reds: Not that Winger isn’t still threatening to take over the unit. Tied as of this morning, and a nice job coming off the mat after that devastating loss to the Braves last Thursday. As is the case with the Yankees, the Indians-Pirates-Astros pupu platter will likely make life easier over the next couple of weeks.

7. Padres: Splitting with the Dodgers and Giants and taking two of three from the Mariners is basically holding serve, but enough other teams didn’t do that last week that the bump up a couple of notches is warranted in my view.

8. Dodgers: Still charging despite the injuries and a thin staff. I still think they need to make a move for pitching, even though everyone says that they won’t be taking on payroll. Maybe Frank McCourt can adopt Roy Oswalt and give him a “job” like he did his kids, thereby hiding the money they’d have to pay the guy.

9. Tigers: No Miguel Cabrera for the next couple of games and a rare two offdays this week, so it’s not like we’re going to get all that great a read on Detroit between now and the next time we meet up for the Power Rankings.

10. Rangers: Hands down the best bankrupt team in baseball.


11. Blue Jays: I have no idea how long this nice run will last,
but if you’re the Jays you couldn’t have drawn up a better “lots of
dudes start strong and maybe allow us to turn them into something at the
trade deadline” season if you tried.

12. Braves: Three at
Florida where they always struggle, followed by a palette-cleanser at
Pittsburgh, and then a death march against Philly and at Los Angeles. 
I’m going in to take a nap — when I wake, and I find they’ve come
through it all unscathed, I’ll know we have a playoff contender. If not,
I’ll know we don’t. 

13. Red Sox: Strong starts from
Lester, Buchholz, Dice-K and Wakefield made for a nice pick-me-up.
They’re four over .500 now, and are more than surviving a profoundly
gnarly part of their schedule.

14: Athletics: Nice starts
from Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Ben Sheets against the Giants,
although I think the results had far more to say about the state of the
San Francisco lineup than it did the Oakland rotation.

15:
Marlins
: They don’t care what I say about them because I never
played in the major leagues.

16: Giants: We should start a
pool in which we all wager on which first-half flash-in-the-pan Brian
Sabean trades for at the deadline in order to not fix the Giants
offense.

17. Nationals: Losers of seven of ten and now
they embark on a ten-game road trip. I have this feeling we’ve seen the
last of those “check out the surprising Washington Nationals” articles
pretty darn soon.

18. Rockies: Call me crazy, but I don’t
think that signing Kaz Matsui is going to spur them on to one of those
2007/2009-style surges.

19. Mets: No matter how rough
things are at the moment, taking two of three from the Yankees and
lighting up the Empire State Building thusly
has to feel good.

20.
Angels
: Eyeing this weekend, when they begin ten straight games
against the Royals and Mariners.

21. Cubs: What to do
with Zambrano? How
about working him in as part of a six-man rotation
?  Dumber things
have been done on the north side in the past. Anyone remember “Whitlow’s
Wall?” No, I’m not going to tell you what it was. That’s between you
and Google.

22. Diamondbacks: Nobody say nothin’ seein’ as
we don’t want to jinx it, but the Diamondbacks bullpen actually pitched
halfway decently last week.

23. White Sox: The Chisox may
be a disappointment this year, but at least they’ve given us “Alexis
Rios: deserving All-Star” this season, and that’s pretty neat.

24.
Pirates
: Since they got obliterated in that stretch against the
Brewers back in April, the Buccos are close to being a .500 team. A very
frustrating .500 team to be sure, but a .500 team all the same. I guess
that’s something.

25. Brewers: Losers of eight of ten.
Somethin’s got to change.

26. Mariners: Mike
Sweeney’s aggressive display
after the Griffey thing didn’t exactly
fire the team up, but it certainly helped Mike Sweeney, who has been on
a tear of late. Maybe he should challenge his teammates to a fight more
often.

27. Royals: Take a good look around and remember
this moment, everyone, for you are now entering the last week in which
Ned Yost will have a .500+ record as manager of the Royals.

28.
Indians
: It’s kind of sad that the highlights of the season going
forward will be watching guys like Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns to see
whether the team’s potential trade bait has what it takes to get traded.

29.
Orioles
: I took guff last week for having the Orioles in last
place. They, like the Astros, went 2-5 last week. But in a gesture of
friendship and good will, I move them up to 29.  May this fill Orioles
fans with joy and satisfaction.

30. Astros: Nothing
personal Astros fans: you guys just tend not to be as insecure as
Baltimore people, so I figured you could handle this.  Besides, you’re
paying more attention to the Oswalt derby anyway. Which, quite frankly,
is way more fun than whatever is happening on the field right now.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final seven Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.