Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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1. Phillies (1): In case you missed this little factoid from Gleeman, the Phillies will be able to start one of their big three of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt in 17 of 19 potential playoff games. Yikes.

2. Twins (2): Just because they clinched doesn’t mean they don’t have something to play for, as you can bet that they’d love to pass up the Rays for the best record on the AL to get a little more home-cookin’ if they make it to the ALCS.

3. Rays (4): Although, it’s gonna be hard for the Twins to snag that best record given how the Rays are ending the season with the Mariners, Orioles and Royals.

4. Yankees (3): There’s no panic like Yankees fan panic.

5. Padres (8): They bounced back nicely following last weekend’s ugly series against the Cardinals. But unless the Braves completely crater — which it totally possible! — this weekend’s series against the Giants will be the biggest series they’ve played since the 2006 NLDS.

6. Giants (7): They’ve taken the schizo crown from the Cardinals: They either score like nuts or get shut down. Yesterday was a rare four-spot from them.

7. Rangers (6): The only thing they have to play for this week is health and happiness. And maybe pride, as they’re probably getting really damn tired of hearing how the Rays and Yankees would rather play them than Minnesota in the first round.

8. Braves (5): There’s probably something seriously wrong with your roster construction or your luck or both when you’re playing must-win games with Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor making starts.  Fact is that they’re just not a good team right now, and even if they hang on for the wild card, it’s hard to see them giving either the Reds or the NL West champ much of a battle, let alone taking down the Phillies.

9. Reds (10): Not that they’re any great shakes themselves these days. September has been the Reds’ worst month by far, and they’re not carrying a ton of momentum into the playoffs. Not that I’m sure momentum matters, but it certainly makes it hard to be terribly optimistic about them at the moment. Still: I’d like to see them play the Phillies. I’m curious how Aroldis Chapman matches up with the Phillies’ lefty bats.

10. Red Sox (11): There is probably a German word that perfectly captures the concept of “that feeling of disappointment one experiences when lamenting a loss that seemingly knocks you out of playoff contention despite the fact that you really didn’t have any chance of making the playoffs to begin with.” I probably couldn’t pronounce it, but that’s what a lot of Red Sox fans are feeling today.

11. Rockies (9): That Diamondbacks series was pretty much their Waterloo. The pitching, she just didn’t hold up. They now need to win like crazy, hope the Padres and Giants quit see-sawing and one of them just buries the other next weekend and hope that the Braves continue their swoon. All of those things are possible, but it’s looking close to over.

12. Tigers (15): Detroit finished its home schedule 52-29. Too bad they couldn’t play them all at home.

13. White Sox (13): I love how Ozzie Guillen has continued to ratchet up his “the White Sox don’t want me no more” rhetoric in the past week. This despite the fact that the Sox continually say that they want him. I haven’t seen someone work so hard to bring about their own end since Godric greeted the sunrise on the roof of the Hotel Carmilla. Look, I’m not exactly proud of that reference either, but my wife likes the show so I started watching it and it’s grown on me, OK?  I’ve only finished seasons one and two, though, so don’t spoil anything for me after that. 

14. Blue Jays (16): Deep thought: how come all the people who think it’s fair to question Jose Bautista’s professional integrity for hitting 50+ home runs don’t think of questioning Aroldis Chapman for throwing 105 miles per hour? At least there’s precedent for someone hitting 50. No, this doesn’t mean that I think it’s fair to question Chapman. It just means that PED-hysterics are still hung up on home run totals despite the fact that everything we know about PEDs suggests that the ‘roids=dingers calculus is facile and reductionist.

15. Cardinals (12): Has any team been less fun than the 2010 Cardinals? They just seem miserable.

16. Athletics (14): Clearly not ready for prime time, as the series with the Rangers showed, but I remain convinced that if they actually try to get a bat that helps them — as opposed to signing someone Beane thinks he could flip in the middle of next season — they could make serious noise in the west next year.

17. Mets (18): Taking two of three from the Phillies is a nice way to spend the season’s penultimate weekend. And they even performed a valuable service yesterday: showing the National League that Cole Hamels can be hit.

18. Angels (19): Dropping three at home to a reeling White Sox team ain’t exactly uplifting. And it all but assured the Angels’ first sub-.500 season since 2003.

19. Dodgers (20): Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times wrote an article over the weekend about how the example of the Rangers and Padres might make Dodgers fans feel better, what with going from owner-induced financial dire straits to playoff team in relatively short order. The difference, I guess, is that neither of those teams decided to punt player development during their dark days like that Dodgers have. And of course, each of those teams got new owners at the end of the road. There’s a pretty decent chance that L.A. is stuck with Frank McCourt for a long time.

20. Marlins (23): For a guy who watches baseball every single day and writes little recaps of nearly every game, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that the Marlins have a good chance of finishing above .500, but I am.

21. Astros (17): Houston extended all of their coaches’ contracts through 2012 over the weekend (they offered Jeff Bagwell the same two years, but he hasn’t decided if he’s going to come back yet). Brad Mills is under contract through 2011 with a team option for 2012. It’s been some time since there was this kind of stability in the dugout for the Astros.

22. Brewers (22): Only seven more games until the Brewers can fire their manager and trade their big star! Feel the excitement, Milwaukee!

23. Cubs (21): Mike Quade is 19-11 as the Cubs’ skipper. I get the feeling like the Cubs’ decision about the manager’s job is less about who to hire as much as it’s about how to deal with Ryne Sandberg if he’s not the choice.

24. Orioles (24): After taking two of three in Boston, the O’s get swept in Toronto. It was their 12th, 13th and 14th straight loss north of the border. No one has had this much trouble in Toronto since Keith Richards got busted by the Mounties at the Harbour Castle Hotel back in ’77.

25. Nationals (27): Hey, they got Nyjer Morgan back! That’s good news. For bloggers and stenographers at disciplinary hearings and stuff anyway.

26. Indians (25): Paul Cousineau at The DiaTribe tries to be optimistic as the season winds down, noting that Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco and Justin Masterson have combined for a 2.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 63 K and 21 BB in 80 1/3 IP this month. But then doesn’t it seem like something happens with the Indians late each season that causes some people to think that they may sneak up on people and surprise next year? Only for things to stink again? I hope not, because I get a ton of Indians games where I live an I can
go to Indians games more ea
sily than I can go to any other team’s games, so even if I don’t root for them, better Indians baseball makes my summers more enjoyable. I’m just not optimistic, that’s all.

27. Royals (26): I’m rather excited about the Royals’ offseason. There’s a ton of talent down on the farm and it will be interesting to see if Dayton Moore eschews his past habits — inexplicably signing veterans that superficially fill holes but actually solve no problems — and allows the youngins to come up and develop without the Jose Guillens of the world blocking their way.

28. Diamondbacks (30): Dbacks hitters passed 1,400 strikeouts last week, setting a new record. That’s fun.

29. Mariners (28): I like stuff like this article from Larry Stone: comparing the Blue Jays and Mariners since they debuted in 1977. They’ve each played 5,376 games as yesterday. By way of comparison, both the Cubs and the Braves surpassed the 20,000 game mark this season.

30. Pirates (29): The Pirates notched their 100th loss over the weekend. Baltimore and Seattle could still join them, but there’s a good chance that the Bucs will be alone in the century club this year.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 4, White Sox 3: Mike Zunino doubled and scored and later he homered to give the M’s the lead for good and Nelson Cruz had three hits and knocked a couple in. Felix Hernandez allowed three over six and that beat James Shields who allowed four over six. That’s just math.

Astros 5, Angels 2: Justin Verlander is now 9-0 as a Houston Astro. He’s 13-1 if you count the playoffs. Either way, he continues to enjoy the hell out of wearing the orange and blue. Er, the other orange and blue. Here he allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings, striking out nine, to go to 4-0 on the year. Albert Pujols did hit a homer off of him, notching his 2,994th career hit, but Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnick went deep for Houston and Alex Bregman hit a three-run double.

Rockies 5, Padres 2: A day after getting shut out in Coors Field, San Diego went six innings without scoring a run off of Rockies starter Jon Gray, who struck out eleven Padres. I’m assuming the list of teams who have been shut out in back-to-back games in Denver is short, but at least the Padres didn’t join that one, later scratching out a couple against the San Diego pen. David Dahl and Tony Wolters each drove in a pair for Colorado.

Nationals 15, Giants 2: With the run support Max Scherzer got he didn’t need to strike out ten and allow only two runs over six innings, but he did. With the fine pitching Scherzer gave the Nats they didn’t need to score two touchdowns and a two-point conversion, but they did. Matt Adams singled and doubled in runs and hit a three-run homer. Andrew Stephenson doubled in runs on two separate occasion and took a bases-loaded walks. Trea Turner got five hits. The Nats had scored just eight runs in the four-game losing streak this victory ended. Here, 14 of their 15 runs were scored with two men out. That’s clutch, or something.

Tigers 13, Pirates 10; Pirates 8, Tigers 3: The Pirates and Tigers have been cursed this year, getting rained out *guesses* seventeen times, so they played two yesterday. Neither starter gave their managers four innings in the first one which you know Ron Gardenhire and Clint Hurdle TOTALLY loved on a doubleheader day. Nicholas Castellanos had four hits, including a homer, and drove in four and teammate Miguel Cabrera had four hits as well in the first-game victory, while Frankie Cervelli knocked in six in a losing cause. In the nightcap, Jose Osuna, who was called up specifically to be the 26-man in the twinbill, hit a three-run homer. He was then sent back to Indianapolis immediately following the game. They should’ve had David Attenborough narrate his day in the same way he’d narrate the weird and sad one-day lifespan of some rando insect on “Planet Earth,” with the homer being like that shining moment the bug got to mate before his head got eaten off or whatever.

Yankees 7, Twins 4: The Yankees won despite another bad start from Sonny Gray, who allowed three runs on six hits in four and two-thirds. Didi Gregorius homered for the fourth game in a row and singled in a run to remain white-hot, Tyler Austin had a three-run shot and Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton each hit a sac fly. The Twins have lost six straight.

Braves 5, Reds 4: The big news was the debut of Ronald Acuña. He went 1-for-5, flying out on the first two pitches he saw, striking out twice but notching his first hit as a big leaguer on an eighth inning single, after which he’d score the tying run on a Kurt Suzuki single. The Braves, who had an early lead in this one that they let slip away, ended up winning it on a Johan Camargo double in the ninth which scored Ozzie Albies. Camargo drove in two on the night. The Braves bullpen — which has not been getting the job done of late — got the job done, tossing four shutout innings.

Indians 4, Cubs 1: Trevor Bauer allowed one run over six and two-thirds and struck out eight while Brandon Guyer, Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion each went deep for Cleveland. Bad news for Cleveland, though, as Andrew Miller had to leave the game with a tight left hamstring. We’ll update later today when it’s know how long he’ll be out.

Rays 8, Orioles 4: Due to the rain on Tuesday the Rays had to wait an extra day to see their old friend Alex Cobb but it was worth the wait as they tagged him for five runs on ten hits. Joey Wendle had three hits and two RBI for the Rays and Adeiny Hechavarria homered. The highlight of the game, though, was the appearance of Rays reliever Johnny Venters, following a six-year absence from the bigs due to not one, but FOUR major elbow operations, including three Tommy John surgeries. At this point his comeback is a success even if his elbow literally falls off of his arm in his next outing. You know all of those motivational posters that say “DETERMINATION” and “PERSISTENCE” and have, like, a photo of salmon leaping up a waterfall or a beaver building a damn? They should be replaced with Venters simply lifting up a pen or something with his left arm. That he actually threw four pitches in a major league baseball game is amazing.

Phillies 5, Diamondbacks 3: Jake Arrieta outpitched Zack Greinke, allowing three — one earned — over seven innings despite not having his best stuff. Aaron Altherr hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth. It was the first time the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks at home in their last nine meetings.

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Mookie Betts hit a solo homer in the first inning to put the Bosox on the board and hit a two-run homer in the seventh to bring the Bosox back from behind. I like to say Bosox. Bosox, Bosox, Bosox.

Marlins 8, Dodgers 6: Clayton Kershaw walked six dudes in five innings. That doesn’t happen every day. Heck, it doesn’t happen in three or four days for him, as he hadn’t walked a man in his previous 26 innings and had not walked six in a game since he was a rookie back in 2010. We all have a bad day sometimes, I guess. Marlins starter Trevor Richards, meanwhile, struck out 10 and pitched one-hit ball over 4.2 scoreless innings, leaving due to the pitch count and thus not qualifying for the win. Richards is an independent ball product, by the way, who spent part of last year as a substitute teacher. J.T. Realmuto homered twice and Miguel Rojas went deep for the Fish.

Rangers 4, Athletics 2: Four Rangers relievers combining for four and a third innings of no-hit, scoreless ball to help Texas end the A’s four-game winning streak. Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a go-ahead single in the fifth for the Rangers. He is the only Isiah to ever play major league ball, by the way. You can look it up.

Cardinals 9, Mets 1Jedd Gyorko hit a two-run homer and Marcell Ozuna hit a bases-loaded single to cap a three-run third inning that put St. Louis up for good. The Cards have won 9 of 11. Ozuna was only 1-for-4 and has been in a horrendous slump, but maybe this breaks him out of it.

Brewers 6, Royals 2Jhoulys Chacin was efficient, in part because the Royals were swinging at everything. He allowed two runs while pitching into the sixth and the bullpen pitched three and a third shutout innings, running their scoreless streak to 28. In turn, the Brewers ran their winning streak to eight. It’s shaping up to be a pretty sweet pennant race between the Brewers and the Cards in the NL Central this year. If you assume, as you should, that the Cubs will step it up too, it could be the most fun division in baseball in 2018.