Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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The rain really messed with stuff last week. There were so many close calls on the rankings that would have been way easier to make if there was one more game in a given series, but a ton of teams had a game — or two — scratched.  Oh well. April showers and all of that. Anyway:

1. Phillies (2): I had a hard time deciding whether to knock the Rockies to number two and elevate the Phillies to the top spot. Yeah, it was a bit of a rough week for the Rockies, but they were facing the world champs and the hot Marlins. It was likewise a great weekend for the Phillies but, dudes, it was the Padres. And the Phillies are still struggling offensively. At the moment I tend to think that each of these teams are strong yet imperfect, and I believe that the differences between them are pretty small from an overall Power Rankings perspective. But ultimately I think the Phillies are better suited for the long haul of the season and, for the moment, that will serve as a tie-breaker.

2. Rockies (1): See above.

3. Yankees (6): An off day and a postponement made for a short week, but at their age they can use the time off.

4. Rangers (3): Neftali Feliz on the DL is bad news. If Ron Washington’s usual bullpen preferences win out, Feliz will be replaced by a bullpen-by-committee featuring C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.

5. Marlins (9): Hanley Ramirez continues to struggle, but the Feesh are doing just fine without his contributions at the moment.

6. Indians (4): Because I’m often too lazy to actually log on to MLB.tv, I end up watching more Indians games than anyone else’s. And I gotta admit: they’ve been fun to watch. Even if the winning doesn’t keep up — which I don’t think it will — it’s been great to watch the development of Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera as well as a resurgent Grady Sizemore.  It’s just an interesting team to watch, which I didn’t anticipate before the season began.

7. Royals (4): 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.

8. Angels (8): I assume the bad series against the Red Sox is a form of mourning for the departure of Brandon Wood.

9. Cardinals (10): The bullpen is still a problem, but taking two of three from the rival Reds is a nice pick-me-up.

10. Brewers (12): Two of three from Philly, two of three from Houston and their star left fielder locked up for a decade. Not a bad week.

11. Reds (7): Miguel Cairo steps in for Scott Rolen for a couple of weeks. I always want to mock when Cairo gets more playing time than he deserves — which seems to happen a lot — but then he does stuff like hit the go-ahead RBI on Saturday night. And it’s not like Rolen was tearing up the pea patch or anything.

12. Tigers (19): I’ve moved them up a lot because they’ve won, but let’s keep in mind that the wins this past week came against the bottom two teams in our Power Rankings.

13.  Giants (11): Brian Wilson’s ERA is 9.82.

14. Rays (18): Hard to find a pitcher who had a better week than James Shields.

15. Blue Jays (13): If there were any illusions on the part of Jays fans about their team’s prospects of challenging in the East, they can look back at the last week and change and note that they lost three of four to Boston, split two with the Yankees and lost two of three to Tampa Bay. No, they aren’t there yet.

16. Dodgers (24): The Dodgers have taken well to being wards of the state, taking three of four from Atlanta and two of three from the Cubs.

17. Athletics (15): The two losses against the Mariners may seem bad on the surface, but they came against Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. There are a lot of teams that are going to go through that experience over the next couple of years.

18. Red Sox (29): Winners of eight of ten including five straight on the road, with most of those wins coming in convincing fashion.  Yeah, I think the Red Sox are gonna be just fine.

19. Braves (17): Are they the listless and feeble team that got pwned by the Dodgers early last week or are they the explosive and opportunistic team that swept the defending world champs in San Francisco over the weekend?

20. Cubs (16): They may have looked OK against the punchless Padres, but they gave up 27 runs in three games to the Dodgers.

21. Nationals (21): Another team with two postponements in the past week. I sure hope the makeup games don’t end up tiring out the pitching staff before the playoffs begin.

22. Pirates (22): The Pirates got creamed by the Marlins early in the week. They bounced back nicely, however, when a random fan wearing a Pirates shirt was sitting along the left field line at Busch Stadium during last night’s Reds-Cardinals game, got a foul ball and then proceeded to thump his chest and yell “Pirates rule!”  The fire still burns inside for some fans.

23. Mets (27): Four wins in a row for the Mets, an off day today and a week in which the biggest gloomy off-the-field news did not involve them. Ya think they’ll get one day without anyone in the press slamming them?

24. Diamondbacks (25): They get three at home against Philly starting tonight. Except they’re flying back from New York while Philly was in San Diego, chilling on Pacific time and likely relaxing in Phoenix before the Dbacks were. Probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I always wonder what about a home game makes it the most advantageous for the players. The beds they sleep in? Travel fatigue? Crowd? Familiar surroundings?

25. Orioles (20): Well, I guess it was a better week than the week they had before. But man, not good. 21 runs given up to the Yankees in two days.

26. Twins (28): My kids’ school sends home letters when epidemics of various stripes are floating around. Strep throat, head lice, that sort of thing. With all that has ailed the Twins so far this year I suppose their moms are getting the same sorts of letters. But hey, three wins in a row suggest that maybe things are looking up.

27. Astros (26): No one has given up more runs than the Astros have (123).

28. Padres (23): No one has scored fewer runs than the Padres have (63).

29. White Sox (14): They’ve lost 10 of 11 and have tumbled down the Power Rankings accordingly.

30. Mariners (30): They have the worst record and the worst run differential in baseball. They’ve earned this.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.