Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings


As always, the number in parenthesis was where they stood in last week’s — or two weeks’ ago’s — Power Rankings.

1. Indians (6): Why not? They’ve got the same record as Philly and a better run differential in a harder league.

2. Phillies (1): Brutal May schedule for Philly. Just finished with the Braves, then the Marlins, Braves, Cardinals, Rockies, Rangers, and Reds. If they come through that OK, well, they’re definitely OK.

3. Yankees (3): Starting this weekend they have three against the Red Sox and then two against the Rays, but they would be foolish to look past the three against the Royals starting tomorrow.

4. Rays (14): A 5-1 week, a tie for first place and Evan Longoria is back in the fold. Everything is coming up Ray-y.

5. Marlins (5): A huge series against the Phillies starting tonight after which they could leave Citizens Bank Park they could wind up in first place (note to self: look at schedule first before naming ballparks; the games are in Florida).  Hold your nose for Javier Vazquez vs. Joe Blanton tonight but do whatever you have to in order to see Josh Johnson vs Roy Halladay tomorrow.

6. Cardinals (9): They just keep winning series.

7. Braves (19): The hottest team in baseball. And — with all apologies to Phillies fans — the team with the best rotation in the National League at the moment.

8. Angels (8): After three with Chicago, they get back-to-back-to-back road series with Texas, Oakland and Seattle. By the time that’s over, we’ll know a hell of a lot more about the AL West.

9. Rockies (2): Since his high water mark on April 24th, Troy Tulowitzki has seen his average drop 85 points, his OBP drop 97 points and his slugging drop 184 points.  In that time the Rockies have gone 4-7. As goes Tulo, so go the Rockies.

10. Reds (11): Having Cueto and Bailey return in strong form is huge for them.

11. Royals (7): Here’s what I wrote for the Royals’ entry a couple of weeks ago: “Kila Ka’aihue is struggling. Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer is hitting .380 as a 21 year-old in his first go-around at AAA.  You don’t need to be a MacArthur Grant recipient in order to have the sort of creativity required to solve this predicament.” — I’d congratulate myself for my prescience, but I suppose I discounted the value of such prescience in that very comment. Hurm.

12. Giants (13): If they could only play the Rockies all the time.

13. Athletics (17): They took three of four from Texas last weekend. Now they have three on the road against the Rangers starting tonight.

14. Rangers (4): Evan Grant paints a dire picture of the Rangers in the post-Josh Hamilton injury world. They’ve lost six of their last seven series.

15. Pirates (22): It’s nice that they’re at .500, but I bet they get a little tired of getting huzzahs and kudos for merely being adequate.

16. Tigers (12): Two three-hit games in a row for Austin Jackson. If he can figure it out it would definitely help.

17. Red Sox (18): As Pete Abraham notes, Adrian Gonzalez is heating up in a major way. It sort of seems like the Sox are sluggish, but they’re only four back in the East, and the Rays, while impressive, have only played a few games against winning teams.

18. Mariners (30): When last we did a Power Rankings, the M’s were dead last. Then they went on a nice run that would have been better-reflected in their ranking last week, had there been one. Dropping two of three to the White Sox, however, takes the luster off a bit. Sorry for costing you your moment, M’s.

19. Nationals (21): Two of three from the world champs, two of three from the frisky Marlins and three in the toilet against Philly in between. I have a hard time getting a read on this team. Whenever I pay close attention they seem to be a pretty basic last place team. And then, when I’m not really looking, they put together a nice couple of games.

20. Diamondbacks (24): They’re on a string of 14 straight games against the NL West. I’m not saying I’m dying for more Dback games in the early evening back east, but really, I don’t like the unbalanced schedule that much.

21. Blue Jays (15): They’re not playing particularly well, but they are getting healthier.

22. Cubs (20): Two separate stories on the Chicago Tribune’s Cubs page right now describe Mike Quade as “bewildered” and “frustrated.” I love out-of-context stuff that nonetheless explains a lot.

23. Mets (23): They’re on a string of nine straight against the NL West.  Maybe they’ll beat out the Diamondbacks for the early-season division lead.

24. Dodgers (16): A pretty bad week, but with all of the ownership crap floating around it seems like no one is noticing.

25. Brewers (10): The Brewers just finished a 10-game road trip in which they scored 17 runs.

26. Padres (28): To put that Brewers number in perspective, the Padres — one of the worst offensive teams in the game — scored 35 in their last ten.

27. Orioles (25): Is it time for a shakeup? Jeff Zrebiec seems to think so.

28. Astros (27): The Astros rank dead last in all of baseball in 11 pitching categories.

29. Twins (26): To be honest, the Twins seem like the worst overall team, but (a) they beat the White Sox both times they faced them last week; and (b) the Francisco Liriano no-hitter gives them warm-fuzzy points.

30: White Sox (29): Between this past Friday and June 3rd, the Sox will have two games against the division. Just two. That makes it a bit harder to make up a ten game deficit. Then again, so does playing like butt, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after hitting an RBI single to score Ben Zobrist #18 (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.

Jake Arrieta flirts with no-hitter, pitches Cubs past Indians 5-1 in World Series Game 2

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gene Puskar - Pool/Getty Images)
Gene Puskar - Pool/Getty Images

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pitched into the sixth inning before allowing his first hit. Behind his strong performance, the Cubs were able to take down the Indians 5-1 in Game 2 of the World Series to even things up at one game apiece.

Unlike their Game 1 performance against Corey Kluber, the Cubs’ offense was ready early. Kris Bryant singled with one out in the first inning against Indians starter Trevor Bauer and promptly scored when Anthony Rizzo drilled a double down the right field line. The Cubs would score again in the third with a two-out rally as Rizzo walked, then Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber hit consecutive singles to center field, plating one run to make it 2-0.

With Zach McAllister returning to the mound for the fifth after relieving Bauer in the fourth, he walked Rizzo, then gave up a triple to Zobrist. The Cubs continued to press their foot on the gas, with Schwarber hitting another RBI single. After Jason Kipnis committed a fielding error on a Willson Contreras grounder — what should’ve been the final out of the inning — McAllister walked Jorge Soler to load the bases, then walked Addison Russell to force in a run, pushing the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

Arrieta had a first-inning scare, issuing back-to-back two-out walks, but he escaped the jam and seemed to be on cruise control until the sixth inning. He got Carlos Santana to fly out to lead off the sixth, continuing his no-hit bid, but Kipnis broke it up with a double to right field. After getting Francisco Lindor to ground out, pushing Kipnis to third base, Arrieta uncorked a wild pitch, helping the Indians score their first run of the game. Arrieta then served up a single to Mike Napoli, which proved to be the end of the line. Manager Joe Maddon came out to replace him with lefty Mike Montgomery. Montgomery ended the bottom of the sixth by inducing a weak ground out from Jose Ramirez.

Montgomery struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh, then got into a bit of hot water by yielding a single to Brandon Guyer, then walking Game 1 hero Roberto Perez. Carlos Santana, however, struck out to end what would be the Indians’ last real chance to get back in the ballgame.

Montgomery remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Kipnis, got Lindor to ground out, then gave up a line drive single to Napoli before Maddon pulled the plug. Closer Aroldis Chapman entered to face Ramirez. As expected, Chapman got Ramirez to whiff on a fastball to send the game to the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Chapman fanned Rajai Davis and got Coco Crisp to ground out for two quick outs. He walked Guyer on five pitches but ended the game as rain drizzled onto Progressive Field by getting Perez to ground out to shortstop.

The World Series is now headed back to Wrigley Field. The two clubs will enjoy a day off on Thursday to travel. Game Three will be played at 8:00 PM EDT on Friday. The Indians will send Josh Tomlin to the hill while the Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks.