Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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Still lots of random shifting around given that the first batch of rankings were based on early season weirdness. I figure that from here on out we’ll see things start to stabilize a bit more. Well, except for maybe the Royals/Indians thing, because that can’t hold. Um, can it?  As usual, last week’s rankings in parenthesis.

1. Rockies (3): It’s not just the Tulo-Gonzalez show. The Rockies are getting contributions from lots of dudes.

2. Phillies (2): The four aces have them winning. They also have them winning quickly. In fact, Philly hasn’t played a three-hour game yet.

3. Rangers (1): The bats cooled down a bit last week, but I suppose they’d have to given how hot they started out.

4. Indians (6)-Royals (11):  A tie for the teams who are playing the biggest series in baseball in the early part of the week. How about them apples?

6. Yankees (8): The rotation may be a source of stress, but it’s nice that no one in the East is en fuego while they struggle through it.

7. Reds (5): It was a loss, but Jay Bruce had a big game yesterday following a dreadful start. If he gets hot, the Reds may be damn nigh unstoppable on offense. The rotation, however, is a cause for concern.

8. Angels (12): Hank Conger is getting more playing time and is tattooing the ball. And of course, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren continue to dominate. Not many people saw a hot start in Anaheim in the cards, but they’re lookin’ pretty good right now.

9. Marlins (17): The only team in the NL with a negative run differential but a winning record. Are they doing it with mirrors? Nah, a good bullpen, mostly, and some good luck in close games. For approximately the 12th time in their 18 years of existence, we find ourselves asking if the Marlins are the real deal.

10. Cardinals (25): A much better week from the offense has things looking up, but Ryan Franklin’s struggles present another nagging problem that Tony La Russa probably doesn’t want to talk about. Quick: someone ask him about it.

11. Giants (15): Barry Zito’s trip to the DL may not be a gigantic issue from a competitive standpoint — he’s Barry Zito after all — but there is something sad about his 356-game consecutive start streak ending. He has never missed a start due to injury in his 11-year career, and that’s pretty impressive given how fragile pitchers can be.

12. Brewers (14): Shifty bunch, these Brewers.

13. Blue Jays (9): Bunch of thieves, these Blue Jays.

14. White Sox (4): Ugly series against the Halos. Ozzie Guillen probably would have preferred a few blown games by the bullpen rather than just have their clock cleaned like they did.

15. Athletics (16): There could be some serious issues for Dallas Braden’s shoulder.

16. Cubs: With the injuries to the starters, Mike Quade continues to have to make choices like whether he’d prefer to pitch  Jeff Samardzija or James Russell. Which is sort of like deciding between a root canal and a colonoscopy.

17. Braves (18): The sweep of the Saturday double header against the Mets was nice, but this is still a team that is seriously out of synch.

18. Rays (30): A couple of dramatic come-from-behind wins against the Twins breathed some life into them.

19. Tigers (26): Two out of three from Texas and a split from Oakland isn’t anything to sneeze at, but the offense is MIA.

20. Orioles (7): I actually figured that the O’s would be the last of the three early-season surprises to come back to Earth, but they ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland.

21. Nationals (23): I’m still kind of reeling from seeing Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez nail down both ends of the doubleheader yesterday.

22. Pirates (21): Four teams in the NL Central have eight losses, including the Pirates.

23. Padres (19): Orlando Hudson has reached base in all 15 Padres games this year.

24. Dodgers (10): Attendance has been terrible compared to what they’re used to. Is this Bryan Stow-related? Bad baseball? McCourt fatigue?

25. Diamondbacks (20): Kelly Johnson, who was so good last year, is .158/.238/.263 to start the season.

26. Astros (28): Apropos of nothing, but in both the spring and in the early going, I don’t think there is a bad team who has had more chatter about it as if it weren’t a bad team than the Astros. Which leads to stuff like this in which people come to grips with the bad team being bad, even though it seemed fairly obvious that they’d be bad.

27. Mets (24): I think the Mets will be a lot better off if they could avoid any doubleheaders this week.

28. Twins (27): They traded a prospect catcher to bolster their bullpen and now their catcher is hurt and their bullpen sucks. It’s like “The Gift of the Magi.” But different.

29. Red Sox (13): Two wins in a row? Eh. After a second straight bad week, they’ve reached the point where they need to be ranked where their record has them. If they’re as good as we all think they are, they can win their way out of the bottom of the Power Rankings.

30. Mariners (29): I don’t care if they won every game they played this past week. They played a game the other night in which Adam Kennedy was the DH and batted cleanup. That deserves the 30-slot regardless of whatever else transpired.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Hope you had a nice weekend. Mine consisted of a lot of sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching stuffy head, fever and, thus, NyQuil and bed rest which (a) meant I went to bed too early Saturday night to see Sean Manaea‘s no-hitter but which allowed me to (b) lay in bed most of yesterday afternoon and see a bunch of games. Not exactly a wash, but if you have to be sick thank God for day baseball. And thank God for NyQuill.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Phillies 3, Pirates 2: It was 2-2 from the fifth until the bottom of the 11th, and that’s when Aaron Knapp tripled and Aaron Altherr singled him in for the walkoff win. The Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the Pirates. It was their first four-game sweep of Pittsburgh in 24 years. There was a time when “in 24 years” seemed like a long time ago — like, that should be in the 1980s or something — but it was 1994 and I had just finished my junior year of college. You lose decades after a certain age. Oh well, the Phillies have won 13 of 16 since we all decided Gabe Kapler didn’t know what he was doing. Guess he figured it out.

Rays 8, Twins 6: The Rays had a 6-3 lead, blew it, and it was tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth when Carlos Gomez came up to bat and hit a two-run walkoff homer. Gomez said that he told his son that he’d hit a homer for him in this game. He was 0-for-his-first 4, though, with three strikeouts before the blast. Phew. For the Twins, Brian Dozier extended his hitting streak to 23 games, dating back to September 22 of last year. It’s weird that we count hitting streaks that way. Of course it’d be weird if we didn’t count them that way too, as everyone would still be talking about last year’s games, so I dunno. The world isn’t always perfect and there aren’t always satisfying answers. You may lose decades when you get older but you gain the ability to deal with ambiguity and even embrace a lack of cosmic resolution in things. That sort of zen is one of the best parts of getting older, even if people tend to fight it rather than accept it.

Athletics 4, Red Sox 1: A day after getting no-hit by Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden and his twirly mustache held the Red Sox to one run on six hits in six and a third and the bullpen took it the rest of the way. I’d say who woulda thunk that the A’s of all teams would cool off the red hot Red Sox bats, but it’s not like any team is going to continue to score 7-10 runs a game ad inifinitum. Khris Davis knocked in all four of the A’s runs, the first one on a ground ball single in the first and the last three with a three-run homer in the eighth, both coming off of David Price. As for Mengden, I like him a lot, but not because of his mustache. I like the way he works from the full windup. This is from a game last year, but check this out:

I was watching him yesterday and he seems to have cut down a bit on that rocking motion, but he still goes both-arms-over-the-head like that. I love it because, even though I know not every pitcher did that back in the 1970s and 80s when I was beginning to watch baseball, it sort of felt like everyone did. It was how kids would pitch when emulating pitchers back then and it didn’t seem weird. I don’t know when that went out of style in favor of the bring-the-arms-in-towards-the-chest thing. I know Paul Byrd pitched like that his whole career and it didn’t feel weird when he did it. I don’t know, maybe I’m just remembering three random dudes who did that and I’m totally misrepresenting baseball history here. You misremember a lot of stuff when you get older too. Anyway: I’m on team Mengden.

Royals 8, Tigers 5: The Tigers took a 2-0 lead but Whit Merrifield hit a solo shot and Abraham Almonte hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to make it 5-2. Then the Tigers tied it up but Mike Moustakas hit a three-run shot in the seventh inning to make it 8-5. “And STAY down,” he said. Or thought. Maybe.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1: Top prosepct Gleyber Torres made his big league debut and went 0-for-4. He’ll have better days. Maybe days like Miguel Andujar, who went 4-for-4, had. Austin Romine doubled in a couple and Didi Gregorius smacked a dinger. Luis Severino didn’t need that much support, as allowed only one run on three hits over seven.

Indians 7, Orioles 3: Jose Ramirez hit two homers — a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run drive in the ninth — to help Corey Kluber get his third win of the season. Manny Machado homered twice in a losing cause. The O’s have lost nine of ten.

Astros 7, White Sox 1: Lance McCullers scattered a bunch of hits while allowing one run over six, while Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis each drove in a couple. Houston sweeps the White Sox, outscoring Chicago 27-2 in the three-game series. The Sox have lost seven in a row, giving up 53 runs on those games.

Brewers 4, Marlins 2: Junior Guerra allowed one run — unearned — in five innings and the bullpen allowed one more run — also unearned — in the final four frames. Both of the unearned runs were attributable to the catcher, as the guy who scored in the first inning reached on a catcher’s interference and the runner who scored in the eighth got into scoring position on a passed ball. Of course, it still took hits in both cases for the runs to come in, so it’s not like the pitcher wasn’t at least partly responsible. I am fairly fascinated with blame apportionment when it comes to unearned runs. It makes me wonder which pitcher benefitted most from runs which, while technically unearned because of an error, were really on him anyway because he gave up a bunch of hits later, failing to limit the damage. Or which were unearned because of his own error. Like, I know Bob Gibson’s ERA in 1968 would not have risen to 3.68 if you analyzed things that way, but I’m sure someone, somewhere, got just under 3.00 to 2.98 or something due to the unearned run rules, thereby changing the way he was viewed in a given year as a result. Someone give me a $250,000 advance on a book to study this, please.

Cardinals 9, Reds 2: Close until the seventh when the Cards put up three thanks to a Paul DeJong three-run homer and then added three more in the eighth. Miles Mikolas allowed two runs — one earned — over seven. I’m too lazy to analyze the unearned run situation in this game, though, and no one has given me the advance I mentioned above just yet. Not doing it for free, folks.  Anyway, the Reds got swept and now they go home to play the Braves today. Maybe. I have tickets to that game so, of course, the forecast calls for a lot of rain. Maybe the Reds need a rainout, but I sort of hope Mother Nature doesn’t let them have one. It’s like 100 miles in the car each way for me and I don’t wanna waste the trip.

Diamondbacks 4, Padres 2: The Snakes scored all four of their runs in the fourth, two on a Nick Ahmed homer, one on Patrick Corbin single and one on a delayed steal thingie in which Padres pitcher Joey Lucchesi threw the ball away. In addition to knocking in that run, Corbin dominated the Padres, winning his fourth game of the year with 11-strikeouts over six two-hit, two-run innings.

Rangers 7, Mariners 4: Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo each hit dongs in the fourth inning as the Rangers avoid a sweep at the hands of the M’s. Rangers starter Martin Perez allowed two over six innings, lowering his ERA from 13.14 to 9.82. Yay, progress!

Cubs 9, Rockies 7: Chicago built up a 6-0 lead after three innings, let the Rockies back in it and then added three more later and held on. In other words, just another afternoon at Coors Field. Javier Baez homered and later doubled in two. He also got cute and blocked D.J. LeMahieu when the latter was trying, it seemed, to steal signs. LeMahieu didn’t like that, but well, tough:

Kris Bryant left this one in the first inning after getting beaned — the ball hit the bill of his helmet and spun the dang thing around without it even falling off his head — but he passed his initial concussion tests, so here’s hoping it’s not serious.

Giants 4, Angels 2: There was some history here as Brandon Belt and Jaime Barria faced off in a 21-pitch at bat, which was the longest since they began keeping track of such things 30 years ago. Barria ended up winning that battle when Belt lined up to right field for the game’s first out. Here you go if you like foul balls and/or building tension:

The Giants won the war, however, as Barria couldn’t make it out of the third inning, having tossed 77 pitches. As soon as he left Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer and Belt would add a solo shot later. Johnny Cueto, meanwhile, was more economical and shut the Angels down for six innings.

Dodgers 4, Nationals 3: Washington took a 3-0 lead over Alex Wood and the Dodgers by the top of the sixth but L.A. came back when Yasmani Grandal and Cody Bellinger hit RBI doubles of the two-run and one-run variety, respectively. Corey Seager put the Dodgers up for good with a sac fly in the seventh and the bullpen held on. The Dodgers won their sixth in seven games and climbed back to .500 after a slow start to the season.

Mets vs. Braves — POSTPONED:

Tried to get your attention all night long
Asked you once, I asked you twice, asked you four times
If you’d like to dance to that song
Front crawled the crowd down the stairs
And I followed you out in the rain, nowhere to be found
Never mind, you’ll probably never look that pretty again

You’re not nineteen forever, pull yourself together
I know it seems strange but things, they change
Older woman and an ever so slightly younger man
God bless the band, they’re doing all they can

You’re not nineteen forever
You’re not nineteen forever
You’re not nineteen forever
It’s not big, it’s definitely not clever