Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

28 Comments

I gotta tell ya, no one feels like a number one team right now. Cleveland and Philly have the best records in baseball, but both are flawed teams who played some unexciting baseball last week.  Then you have Florida, but Philly beat them two out of three last week, so how can I put them above Philly?  Screw it: we ignore overall records at the top of the list this week and go with the hot hands.  Oh, and one more thing: there is so much damn compression right now, that you shouldn’t get too hung up on the rankings at the moment.  Five slots between teams could represent almost no difference in my perception of their mojo at the moment. I could have done a bunch of three and four-way ties at some of these rankings and it wouldn’t have made a big difference.

1. Reds (10): Are they the absolute best team in baseball? Eh, maybe not, but that’s not what the Power Rankings measure. I’m not sure exactly what they measure, but I know it when I see it, and the way I see it is that if you sweep your division rival and take over first place despite your ace relief pitcher doing a Steve Blass impression, you gotta be number one, at least for a week, OK? In other news, this is the first time that we’ve had two straight weeks of Ohio dominance at the top of the Rankings.

2. Rays (4): Kind of the same here in terms of what I feel about the Rays. Losing two of three to the O’s doesn’t feel like a number two team, but they’ve had a good run of late otherwise and are on top of their division and, dammit, no one else below them really excites me at the moment.  Really, aside from these top four teams, everyone is playing kind of blah baseball right now.

3. Tigers (16): The hottest team in baseball. Seven in a row and ten of eleven.

4. Giants (12): If you told me that the Giants would have the second to worst offense in baseball, that Pablo Sandoval would be hurt and Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey would be struggling and that, despite this, they’d be in first place in the West, I wouldn’t have really believed you. But I wouldn’t have called you crazy either. Because you can win with pitching.

5. Indians (1): Don’t read too much into the four-spot drop. Two rainouts on the weekend series and a few scorching-hot teams ahead of them will do that.  That said, it just seems like a matter of time before Detroit overtakes them in the real standings too, doesn’t it? Isn’t it time, now that all of the national outlets have gotten on board with their “hey, these Indians are exciting and special!” stories, for a decline? I admit that in this that I’m thinking of them as less of a baseball team and more of a stock, but it just seems to work like that a lot.

6-8. Phillies, Marlins, Braves (2, 5, 7): I guess in that order, because that reflects the standings, but you can make reasonable arguments in any order. They all went 3-3 last week. Braves won two straight series against the Phillies but are kind of getting away with murder as far their offensive holes go and of course they looked bad against the Nats. Phillies beat the Marlins in their mid-week series but in some ways the Marlins have been more consistent than the other two. They’re just all really even at the moment. I continue to believe that the Phillies will be the first to separate themselves, but they haven’t done it yet.

9. Cardinals (6): Remember last year how the Cards and Reds had that brawl, the Cards won the series and everyone said that, boy, this was the spark that was going to allow St. Louis to bury Cincy for good?  Well, life doesn’t work like that. As such, you should just ignore any grand pronouncements made about the impact of this past weekends’ series as well, because it kind of doesn’t matter. Same goes for Boston and New York too, by the way.

10. Angels (8): Lost two of three to Texas and two of three to the White Sox last week. The bullpen is a pretty big problem at the moment.

11. Yankees (3): I don’t hate the Yankees or anything, but I really do enjoy reading the tabloids after a weekend like New York just had. There’s no one who pumps success up to the stratosphere or beats struggles into the ground like the New York press.

12. Rangers (14): Josh Hamilton may start a rehab assignment soon.  They’re treading water well enough without him, but boy could they use him back in the lineup.

13. Rockies (9): Another bad week for Colorado. If you want to be a playoff team you don’t drop consecutive series to the Mets and Padres.

14. Blue Jays (21): Jose Bautista. Like I need to say more?  What’s the earliest anyone has anyone locked up an MVP?  Because this smells like one of those kinds of years.

15. Red Sox (17): It’s always nice to sweep the Yankees, but how big a feat is that at the moment? Ah, who cares: the Sox are at .500.

16. Royals (11): Two of three from New York was nice, but the wins stopped and the bats went cold as soon as they got to Detroit. Their next seven games come against Cleveland, Texas and St. Louis, so they had better find that mojo quickly.

17.  Athletics (13): Scott Ostler, talking about the A’s offensive troubles and their close-but-no-cigar comeback yesterday, had a pretty good line this morning: “If this had happened 5 miles away, it would be called torture.  The A’s don’t do torture. It’s something lighter they offer, more of a sustained frustration.”

18. Mets (23): A 4-2 week on the road with a couple of those wins coming against a pretty good team and the offense clicking nicely. Such a contrast to that dysfunctional team that plays on the other side of town.

19. Brewers (25): Quietly, as the Reds and Cardinals took front stage, Milwaukee had a very good week. Don’t count them out.

20. Nationals (19): Series ahead against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Mets. A chance for them to show that they’re more than the ~.500 team they’ve appeared to be?

21. Orioles (27): A 5-1 week for the O’s, who at the very least have shown that no one who expects to win the AL East can expect to do so by feasting on the Orioles anymore.

22. Diamondbacks (20):  The Dodgers series salvages what was an otherwise bad road trip.

23. Dodgers (24): The offense is sleeping. Is there a team more dependent on a couple of guys (Kemp and Ethier) than Los Angeles?

24. Cubs (22): Cubs’ offensive output in their last four games: 11, 1, 11, 0.  If they score 11 tonight, be sure to tune in Tuesday, because we may see something we’ve never seen before.

25. Padres (26): What’s got 50 thumbs and has scored 46 runs in its last six games? These guys, right here!

26. Pirates (15): The Pirates must have gotten tired of that patronizing “oh look! They’re over .500!” chatter from last week.  Dropping five in a row sure showed everyone!

27. White Sox (30): Signs of life: two of three from the Angels and two of three from the A’s.

28. Mariners (18): Sub-headline of Steve Kelley’s story in the Seattle Times about the struggles of the Mariners’ closer: “Should Brandon League remain the Mariners’ closer? Should he be demoted? Does it really matter?” Yep. Pretty much nails it.

29. Astros (28): At least they’ll soon have a new owner and all of the related hubbub that goes along with it to distract everyone from the miserable product on the field.

30. Twins (29): Let’s put it this way: Gleeman’s mom and I have been taking turns calling him every hour to make sure he isn’t harming himself or others.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
1 Comment

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 9, Indians 1: Doug Fister put forth a dogged performance last night, tossing a complete game one hitter, with his only mistake a leadoff solo homer surrendered to Francisco Lindor in the third pitch of the game. After that: nine full innings of no-hit ball which doesn’t technically count for anything special but which was pretty darn cool all the same. Eduardo Nunez drove in five behind him with a three-run homer and a two-run double. Jackie Bradley, Jr. doubled. Fister, however, was obviously the top dog here.

Yankees 13, Tigers 4: Since the Rays’ Logan Morrison said that Sanchez should not be in the Home Run Derby Sanchez has hit 12 dingers to Morrison’s five. Last night Sanchez homered twice. One of them went nearly 500 dang feet. I’d say he’s vindicating the choice pretty well. Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings in his first appearance since hitting the DL with shoulder inflammation. Nicholas Castellanos hit two homers in a losing cause for Detroit, including an inside-the-park homer with two outs in the ninth, giving the masochists sho hung around something to cheer for.

Cubs 13, Reds 9: A weird day for Chicago: Ben Zobrist was scratched from the starting lineup because he was late getting back from an offday in Nashville because he misplaced his rental car. There’s probably more to that story but let’s leave it go for now. Late in the game Kris Bryant suffered a minor injury which caused Joe Maddon to put Anthony Rizzo at third base for an inning because it was “fun.” Really:

“Looking at it, the only thing left was (catcher Alex) Avila at third, which is no fun, or Rizzo at third and Avila at first, which is fun, and that’s why we did it,” Maddon said.

Oh that wacky Joe Maddon.

As for the game, the Cubs were down 6-3 after five innings but rallied for ten runs in the final four to win it going away. Zobrist hit a double as a pinch hitter late. No word on whether he got lost on the way back to the team hotel.

Dodgers 8, Pirates 5: The Dodgers used six pitchers in the game without any of them going more than two innings. Their disabled list — the disabled list! — right now has a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Wood, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Yu Darvish and Julio Urias. Doesn’t matter, though. Nothing seems to stop them. Here the offense propelled them. Chris Taylor had three hits and drove in three runs. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer. In the sixth, Adrian Gonzalez got his 2,000th career hit and was promptly knocked in by Corey Seager to put the Dodgers up for good.

Marlins 12, Phillies 8; Marlins 7, Phillies 4: This doubleheader was a home run fest, as the teams combined for 14 bombs in the two games. Giancarlo Stanton hit his 46th homer and Ichiro — Ichiro? — hit a pinch-hit three-run bomb in the first game. Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto hit homers too. In the nightcap Ozuna went deep again and Christian Yelich joined him. Yelich likewise robbed the Phillies’ Nick Williams of a homer with a sweet grab over the fence.

Athletics 6, Orioles 4: Ryon Healy hit two homers and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis joined him. Three of those homers came off of Ubaldo Jimenez, who has given up 29 this year. A’s starter Paul Blackburn was cruising with four shutout innings under his belt when he was hit on the wrist by a comebacker in the fifth and was forced to leave the game. X-rays came back negative, however, which is a positive.

Diamondbacks 7, Mets 4: J.D. Martinez hit a first inning three-run homer and Patrick Corbin allowed one run on four hits over eight innings. Reliever Matt Koch struggled in the ninth, allowing three runs, which set the stage for Fernando Rodney to get a cheap as hell save by tossing only two pitches.

Rays 6, Blue Jays 5: Chris Archer struck out ten in six innings and Lucas Duda and Corey Dickerson homered. This is, based on just my gut, having done the recaps, as opposed to looking at the actual schedule, the 135th time the Rays and Jays have played this season.

Braves 4, Mariners 0: Lucas Sims allowed three runs over six shutout innings and three relievers completed the blanking. Nick Markakis homered and singled in a run. The Braves also scored on a play that featured multiple rundowns:

I wish I could hear Skip Caray call that one.

Twins 4, White Sox 1Jorge Polanco homered for the third time in two days and Kyle Gibson turned in his best start of the season, allowing one run over seven while striking out eight. If the season ended today the Twins would be the AL’s second Wild Card team. Also if the season ended today, the World Series would take place in September, which would be hella weird.

Nationals 4, Astros 3: Howie Kendrick tripled in two and Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer as the Nats came back from an early 2-0 deficit. The Nats don’t play the Astros often, but they have beaten them in nine straight meetings dating back to 2012. It’s 13 of 14 if you count back to 2011. Houston was in the NL in 2011 and 2012, of course. They should still be there but I suppose that’s the topic of another rant.

Royals 3, Rockies 2: The Indians scored one run on only one hit in their loss to Boston. The Rockies scored two runs on two hits in their loss to Kansas City. Here Danny Duffy allowed only one hit, but it was a two-run homer to Nolan Arenado, which followed a walk. By then the Royals had scored three thanks to a passed ball, an infield single and an RBI double. After that four Royals relievers kept Colorado hitless for the final three frames.

Padres 12, Cardinals 4Yangervis Solarte drove in six runs thanks to a couple of RBI doubles — one which cleared the bases — and a two-run homer. Austin Hedges added a two-run homer and Matt Szczur singled in a couple as the Padres romped. They were getting a lot of bad mojo out of their system, too. Coming in to this game the Padres had scored only six runs over their previous four games combined and Solarte had only driven in six runs in the previous two weeks.

Angels 10, Rangers 1Albert Pujols hit his 610th career homer — a three-run shot — passing Sammy Sosa for 8th on all-time list, and for first on the all-time list for homers from a foreign-born player. He also doubled in a run. Ricky Nolasco only allowed one run but couldn’t make it five innings, so he didn’t get the win. Three Angels relievers shut Texas out over the final four and a third, however.

Brewers 4, Giants 3: Travis Shaw hit a two-out double in the seventh inning to bring the Brewers back from behind and give manager Craig Counsel his 200th win. The Giants are bad, folks.

Aaron Judge’s record strikeout streak ends at 37 games

Mike Stobe/Getty Images
2 Comments

For the first time in a month and a half, Aaron Judge went an entire game without striking out, ending his record streak at 37 games. Judge had an RBI single and three walks in Tuesday night’s 13-4 victory over the Tigers.

Judge went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and zero strikeouts in a 9-4 loss to the Brewers on July 7. Between July 8 and August 20, Judge would strike out in all 37 games, breaking the record previously held by Adam Dunn, who struck out in the first 32 games of the 2012 season. If one counted streaks extending into multiple seasons, Dunn held the record at 36 games as he struck out in his final four games in 2011 as well.

After Tuesday’s performance, Judge is now hitting .284/.417/.594 with 37 home runs, 81 RBI, and 93 runs scored in 525 plate appearances on the season. He’s had a particularly rough second half, as he entered Tuesday with a .684 OPS since the All-Star break, a far cry from his 1.139 OPS before the break.