Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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1. Yankees:  If they’re at the top of baseball with a half dozen problems at any given time, how good will they be when things really start clicking? I just feel like they’ve been playing the season with one hand tied behind their back and that pretty soon they’ll rip off like 14 wins in a row or something crazy.

2. Rangers: I was tempted to move them to the top slot for a minute, but the big recent push has come mostly against cupcakes. Not that it hasn’t been a nice push.

3. Red Sox: Banged up as all hell, but they have been all year, right?

4. Padres:  We’ve waited for them to turn into a pumpkin all year, and they just won’t. They’ve been the most consistent team in baseball. In this they remind me a lot of the 1991 Braves. A lot of people are gonna wake up in September and say “Jesus, the Padres clinched?”

5. Braves: No shame in getting beat up by the White Sox, but let’s be clear: they’re not playing great baseball at the moment. Heyward’s injury is bothersome, but let’s be honest: he has been only moderately effective for the bulk of the team’s turnaround. The real concern has been Troy Glaus’ recent slump and the sudden ineffectiveness of Tommy Hanson.

6. Mets: Every day they don’t trade for Cliff Lee is a day the Braves and Phillies breathe a bit easier. If and when they do pull that trigger, Phillies and Braves fans will freak the hell out.
 
7. Rays: They were bound to come down from their early season highs, but I wasn’t guessing it would be this far down.  Nothin’ is working right at the moment.

8. Reds: The Reds sign Gary Matthews Jr. and then surge back into first place. Coincidence? Why yes, yes it is.

9. White Sox: I try to keep some sort of connection to the reality of the standings, but I’m sorry, just because they’re a game and a half behind the Twins doesn’t mean I can’t put the White Sox here. They’re surging right now and it just feels right.

10. Phillies: Their recent bounceback has them looking a lot like the beast that roamed near the top of the Power Rankings earlier in the season.

11. Cardinals: The reason they can’t hold on to first place? Too many holes in the lineup.

12. Twins: Gleeman’s take on the current blah of the Twins: “Had the timing of the good and bad stretches been flipped, with the
Twins starting 10-14 and then playing well for two months, the
perception of their current situation would be different.” And if wishes were fishes we’d all have a fry. Not that Aaron’s wrong or anything. I mean, we can’t expect that the White Sox will continue to win just about every game they play, right?

13. Tigers: How Miguel Cabrera isn’t leading the league in All-Star voting at first base is beyond me.  Well, it’s not totally beyond me — I get that there are more Yankees fans than Tigers fans — but it’s pretty telling all the same.

14. Angels: The pitching has come around nicely. If they pick up a bat and the Rangers fall back to Earth as they must, we’re gonna have a good race.

15. Giants: Pablo Sandoval: .273/.331/.415. Vald Guerrero can get away with swinging at everything. Panda can’t.  I’d hate to see him not learn that lesson the way Jeff Francoeur didn’t learn that lesson.

16. Blue Jays: Time to think about dealing. Bautista? Overbay? Five years ago teams would jump at guys like that. Now I’m having a hard time seeing them bring back any value.

17. Rockies: They ought to do something with Manny Corpas, what with the laws against keeping dead bodies lying around and everything.

18. Dodgers: There were a lot of storms in the Midwest this past week. Must have blocked the V Energy from flowing from Boston.

19. Brewers: Nice week for the Brewers. I doubt they’ll be doing more this year than fighting the Cubs for third place, but unlike the Cubs, they’re approaching what has turned into a bummer of a season with dignity and some fight.

20. Athletics: If it makes anyone feel better, there were way more votes for contracting the Yankees than contracting the A’s in my little contraction post this morning.

21. Marlins: This ranking reflects the on-the-field product. If it reflected front office chaos, they’d be at 156.

22. Cubs: The only silver lining of the Carlos Zambrano insanity is that between his past history and their year of living with Milton Bradley, the Cubs have a handbook on how to deal with this kind of jazz.

23. Royals: Outside of the 1985 World Series it probably hasn’t ever counted as a true rivalry, but the Royals have to have enjoyed taking two of three from the Cardinals.

24. Nationals: I predict the Nats will score a half run in support of Stephen Strasburg tonight. Difficult, I know, but I think they have it in them.

25. Mariners: I may have lost count, but I think this marks the 23rd straight season in which a team has started the year thinking “sure, Casey Kotchman can handle first base for us,” only to cut bait before the trading deadline.

26. Diamondbacks: I was tweeting like crazy about this on Friday night, but I’ll reiterate here: I have no problem with Hinch leaving Edwin Jackson in to throw 150 pitches for a no-hitter. You don’t do it with some young franchise-quality pitching prospect, but you can do it with a solid, experienced contributor-type like Jackson. Odds are he’ll never win a Cy Young. The competitive part of the season truly is over for the Dbacks. You have to let him and the fans have this.

27. Indians: I’m surprised the Tribe found a taker for Russell Branyan so quickly. I figured they’d have to wait a few weeks for that kind of a deal to develop. Pure gravy for them that they could get that done, get some bodies in return and open up a slot for LaPorta to prove himself with so much of the season left to play.

28. Astros: Are Astros fans experiencing some delicious schadenfreude seeing Nolan Ryan — the man who many in Houston feel abandoned them twice — having so much trouble assuming ownership of the Rangers, or are they worried that all that difficulty is killing the market for Roy Oswalt and thereby preventing them from getting their hands on a prized Ranger prospect or two?

29. Orioles:  When you’re in as deep a hole as the O’s have been in all year it’s not likely that you’ll ever climb out, but they won some damn games this past week, and they at least deserve to be out of the cellar.

30. Pirates:  I saw some glimmers of faint hope as the season began. Now it’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none.
None more black.

Mets Syndergaard ejected after throwing behind Utley

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NEW YORK — In a scene that has seemed inevitable since October, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been ejected for throwing a 99 mph fastball behind Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since his late takeout slide in last year’s playoffs broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.

New York was incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules on slides at bases this season. But the Mets had not attempted to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard’s first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman’s back by a considerable margin.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting irate Mets manager Terry Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected.

Indians’ Brantley unsure of return from shoulder injury

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CLEVELAND —¬†Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has no timetable for his return from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the second time this season.

Brantley spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 14. He began the season on the DL following surgery for a torn right labrum in November. Brantley hit .231 with seven RBIs in 11 games before being shut down again.

“I wasn’t bouncing back quick enough to keep playing back-to-back games, which is very important,” he said. “I want to be healthy each and every day and I have to play at a high level. This is the major leagues. You have to be at the best of your ability and the highest health-wise you can be.”

Brantley, who received an anti-inflammatory shot in the shoulder two weeks ago, doesn’t think he returned from the surgery too soon.

“I was ready,” he said. “We talked about it. We had a great process laid out. Everything went smoothly. It was just a bump in the road.”

Brantley has been hitting off a tee but isn’t sure when he will begin taking swings in the batting cage. He is playing catch since he throws left-handed but wants to be cautious about resuming a hitting program.

“Surgery is nothing to play with,” he said. “You have to be smart and understand your body.”

Brantley visited Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed the surgery, in Wilmington, Delaware after he returned to the DL. An MRI showed no changes in the shoulder.

“He said everything checks out good, just make sure to take your time and we’ll see what happens from there,” Brantley said.

Brantley finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014 when he hit .327 with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. He batted .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.

Blue Jays walk off Red Sox, 10-9, as Travis scores Martin

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TORONTO (AP) Devon Travis drove home Russell Martin with two out in the bottom of the ninth as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-9 on Saturday.

With the Blue Jays trailing 9-8 on a David Ortiz home run in the top of the inning, Boston closer Craig Kimbrel retired Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders. But Justin Smoak singled on a line drive to center, and with Ezequiel Carrera pinch running for Smoak, Martin drove in his third run of the day on a double to tie the game.

After Martin advanced to third on a wild pitch, Travis forced third baseman Travis Shaw to stretch to corral a shot, and though he tried to throw Travis out at first, his throw was dropped by Hanley Ramirez and Martin scored.

The walk-off win was Toronto’s second of the season, the first coming against Texas on May 3, and completes the series win over the Red Sox, snapping a two-series home losing skid.

Martin hit his third home run in four games with a solo shot over the right-field wall in the sixth inning, while Xander Bogaerts and Shaw both had home runs for the Red Sox.

Ortiz’s 13th home run of the season and league-leading 46 RBI had seemed to be enough for the Red Sox, who watched an 8-4 lead disintegrate in the eighth inning as the Blue Jays rallied to tie the score.

Reliever Gavin Floyd (2-3), who gave up Ortiz’s shot, got the win, while Kimbrel (0-2), on his 28th birthday, was tagged with the loss.

Bogaerts, who went 3-for-5 with three runs, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 21 games with a homer off the top of the left-center-field wall in the fourth inning. The streak is the second longest in the majors this year, behind teammate Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 29-game run, which ended Thursday.

Ramirez drove in three runs, while Dustin Pedroia had a pair of doubles and two RBIs as he extended his hitting streak against Toronto to 22 games.

Boston starter Rick Porcello gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out five over 6 2/3 innings.

Marcus Stroman tied his shortest outing of the season, also against Boston, surrendering seven runs on 11 hits while striking out five. He was chased in the fifth inning with one out.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki (right quad) was placed on the 15-day DL. Tulowitzki, who is batting just .204 this season with eight home runs and 23 RBIs, had sat out two games this week with the injury. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are expected to split time at shortstop until the veteran returns. Toronto activated left-handed reliever Aaron Loup from the 15-day DL to take Tulowitzki’s place. Loup, who has yet to play this season, has been recovering from a forearm strain and just completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP David Price (7-1, 5.34) returns to a happy hunting ground Sunday. The former Blue Jay makes his first start of the season at Rogers Centre, where he is 11-1 in 15 career starts with a 3.34 ERA.

Blue Jays: RHP R.A. Dickey (2-6, 4.60) is 0-5 in his last eight starts against the Red Sox. He is looking for his first win against them since going 4-0 in 2014.

Hendricks pitches 5-hitter, Cubs beat Phillies 4-1

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CHICAGO (AP) Kyle Hendricks pitched a five-hitter for his second career complete game, Dexter Fowler hit a leadoff homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 on Saturday.

Hendricks (3-4) struck out seven and walked none. He was in line for his second career shutout before giving up a run in the ninth.

Fowler sparked a two-run first against Jerad Eickhoff (2-7) with his sixth home run.

Jason Heyward had two doubles for Chicago, which has won four in a row. Ben Zobrist had two hits, including an RBI double, to extend his streak to 14 games.

The Phillies lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Philadelphia had just four hits before right fielder Heyward and second baseman Zobrist allowed Freddy Galvis‘ fly to drop between them for a leadoff double in the ninth.

Galvis scored from third when Ryan Howard struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt. The Cubs had a shift on with the lefty at the plate, allowing the runner to take a huge lead.

Catcher Miguel Montero looked him back, but Galvis took off for home as he threw to first on the strikeout, spoiling the shutout and drawing boos from the crowd. Hendricks then retired Cameron Rupp on a groundout.

Dominant in a rare win over struggling Atlanta in his previous start, Eickhoff came up short against the team with the best record in the majors. The right-hander went six innings, allowing four runs and eight hits while striking out seven and walking one.

The Cubs, tops in the majors in run differential, wasted no time grabbing the lead.

Fowler drove a 3-1 fastball just over the wall in left-center for his second leadoff homer this season and the 16th of his career. Heyward followed with a double and scored on a two-out double by Zobrist, who came in on a 22-for-50 tear.

The Cubs made it 3-0 in the third on back-to-back singles by Addison Russell and Hendricks and a double by Heyward. Hendricks got thrown out trying to score to end the inning, but the way he was pitching, it didn’t matter.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: Galvis came up limping in the sixth inning after Hendricks hit him in the right leg with a pitch. He walked gingerly to first and stayed in the game after being tended to by a trainer.

UP NEXT

RHP John Lackey (4-2, 3.38 ERA) goes for his first win in more than three weeks for Chicago while RHP Vince Velasquez (5-1, 2.75 ERA) tries to shake off his shortest outing of the season for Philadelphia. Lackey is 0-1 in his past three outings, although he has lowered his ERA from 4.02 to 3.38. Velasquez lasted four innings against Detroit on Monday, allowing three runs and nine hits.