Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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It continues to be the Yankees world. We’re all just livin’ in it.  Last week’s rankings are in parenthesis:

1. Yankees (1): I’m struggling to think of what could knock them out of the top spot. Joba Chamberlain could go on a tri-state killing spree, I guess, but if you listen to some Yankees fans you’d think he went and did it already.

2. Rays (2): The Rays making a big move with one of their many, many prospects to add a bat could possibly change things. They are emerging from their month-long funk now, and they are probably best equipped to gird their loins for the the playoffs. Well, Carl Crawford won’t be girding his loins, but everyone else will be.

3. Padres (3): Mat Latos recovered from his debilitating sneeze to beat the Pirates on Saturday. In fact all of the Padres got well in Pittsburgh. And they get them again in a couple of weeks. Between that and the divisional matchups against Arizona, there have been a lot of free passes for the Pads lately.

4. Rangers (5): Three of four from the Angels makes it seem pretty safe for Texas to start printing playoff tickets, no? Sure, the Angels got Dan Haren, but he can only pitch every fifth day. The Rangers are better than the Angels top-to-bottom seven days a week.

5. Braves (4): Everything has broken right for the Braves this year, but if they count on an outfield of Jason Heyward and a bunch of guys who have no business starting on a playoff team, the Braves won’t be a playoff team.

6. Giants (10): San Francisco is currently above the league average in runs scored a game. The last time they finished a season above average in runs scored was 2004.

7. Cardinals (8): Losing two of three to the Cubs is no good, but staring straight ahead at nine games against the Mets, Pirates and Astros has the Cardinals licking their chops.

8. White Sox (6): Ozzie Guillen is going to put Bobby Jenks back in as closer soon. He says he’s not being emotional about Jenks’ bad performances. He has a plan, saying “we’re not crazy what we’re doing here.” Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

 9. Reds (9): Scott Rolen is probably not going to start in Milwaukee tonight, making it ten games out since he hurt his hamstring. I’m not sure I can recall a guy missing ten games without going on the DL. Lucky for Cincinnati it hasn’t really come back to bite them. Miquel Cairo (!) has actually filled in quite nicely.

10. Twins (13): Some signs of life these past few days — although it’s hard not to show signs of life against Baltimore. The question is how long can they keep it up without Justin Morneau, who doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to returning from his concussion?

11. Phillies (15): Some signs of life these past few days against a better brand of team than the Twins faced. And dead ahead are games against the Diamondbacks and Nats.

12. Dodgers (16): Anson Williams — who played Potsy on “Happy Days” sang “God Bless America” at the Dodgers-Mets game yesterday. Weisman said he did a good job. Of course he did, because Potsy was never anything if not a total pro. But you’re in Los Angeles, California and that’s the best you can do for in-game talent? Potsy doesn’t even make the cut for dinner theater in the Midwest.

13. Red Sox (11): A split against the current incarnation of the Mariners is a pretty sad statement.

14. Tigers (12): Inge down, Ordonez gone. Eventually you just run out of warm bodies.

15. Rockies (7): The current east coast swing has been terrible, but at least they (a) get Troy Tulowitzki back tomorrow; and (b) get to face the Pirates.

16. Athletics (19): They just started filming the movie version of “Moneyball” in and around the Coliseum this week. I was going to complain about the fact that they have this guy playing this guy, but given that they’re currently making a movie about how Billy Beane is a genius, I’m assuming it’s a fantasy piece anyway.  Enough bashing, though: the A’s took two of three from the Chisox. They’re playing good ball right now.

17. Blue Jays (18): I was worried that I have only been talking about the Jays insofar as they have players other teams want, ignoring them for actual, you know, baseball purposes. But on Saturday I did a radio spot on 590 The Fan in Toronto, and the sense I got from them was that’s all Jays’ fans are really paying attention to as well.

18. Mets (14): Heard this: Omar Minaya is considering firing the person who books the Mets’ charter flights. Who else could be responsible for such a lousy road trip?
 
19. Marlins (20): The Feesh are back at .500.  If form holds, they’ll now go on a 3-7 skid and then win four or five games via walkoff hits and then slowly make their way back to .500 again.  These guys would give me an ulcer if I followed them on a daily basis.

20. Angels (17): Spanked by Texas and still in need of a bat. But hey, given that Arizona didn’t make them give up anything major to pick up Haren, perhaps they make a trade for another bat.

21. Brewers (22): 7-4 since the break. Does a respectable second half save Ken Macha? Well, at least until his contract expires and he’s sent packing in October anyway?

22. Cubs (21): Not sure how you lose two of three to Houston and then take two of three from St. Louis, but that’s what they did this past week.

23. Indians (25): You’d think the good play of late from the youngsters would actually cover up for other problems, but it actually just makes the problems — like what to do with Travis Hafner — stand out all the more.

24. Royals (24): I so want to believe that the Royals and Mets are going to do a trade where Jeff Francoeur, Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Guillen and Gil Meche all change teams, but I think it’s just a case of Rosenthal getting into the peppermint schnapps and having fun with all of us.

25. Nationals (23): The Nats should keep Adam Dunn around. He reminds me of Frank Howard and I really like Frank Howard.

26. Astros (26): Ed Wade is treating Roy Oswalt like I treated my 1963 Wally Moon card: valuable to me, but nowhere near as valuable to others for obvious reasons. I never managed to trade that bad boy either.

27. Mariners (27): Don Wakamatsu looks like he’s gonna get canned, don’t he? In hindsight this wasn’t as good a Mariners team as a lot of people thought it would be, but it shouldn’t have been this bad and they can’t go a week or two without some clubhouse problem. Maybe not Wakamatsu’s fault, but like they say, you can’t fire the players.

28. Diamondbacks (28): I’m thinking the Haren trade is only the beginning of the fire sale.

29. Pirates (30): The Pirates are on pace for their worst season since 1985. Back then they at least had the excuse of being coked to the eyes. What gives now?

30. Orioles (29): Getting Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott and Mike Gonzalez back will be quite helpful in the push to top the 1988 Orioles. Dare to dream.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.