1. Philadelphia Phillies (2) 49-30
Imagine for a second a world where there was radical realignment…and the Phillies shared a division with the Yankees and Red Sox. Damn, honestly that’s the league the Phillies are in. They don’t seem to even belong in the NL because they are so far and away better than anyone else in the league. Despite nagging injuries in the bullpen which recently has sidelined Jose Contreres and Ryan Madson, and a wildly inconsistent lineup, the Phillies keep winning. Good thing it’s interleague play time, because this week they play a team that’s actually in their league…the Red Sox.
2. New York Yankees (3) 45-31
Since the Yankees were beaten down by the Red Sox a few weeks ago, the Bombers are 12-4. It’s almost like the Yankees dusted themselves off and said, “Ok, enough.” Even with a rotation that features CC and everyone else, the Yankees continue to get consistent starting pitching and even a pen that has held up well despite injuries to Feliciano, Soriano and now Joba. They can get by without Derek temporarily, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking they don’t NEED him back. Eduardo Nunez has hit but his shotty defense at SS has reminded us all how solid Derek is over there.
3. Boston Red Sox (1) 45-32
The Red Sox dropped a few spots, because a few NL teams (not named the Phillies) beat them up a little bit. Losing 2 of 3 to the Padres and the Pirates is not the resume of a #1 ranked team. Not having David Ortiz bat 4+ times will hurt them in the series against Philadelphia.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (9) 44-35
After the big 3 we witness a significant drop off. Tampa Bay moves up quite a few spots with the help of the senior circuit. The Rays have feasted against the National League this year…first they swept Florida 3 straight, won 2 of 3 against the 1st place Brewers, and completed the sweep of Houston Sunday by pounding out 14 runs. Give the Rays credit as they continue to very quietly hang in the AL East race.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (4) 44-35
Remember when the Minnesota Twins were red hot? Well, the Brewers made you forget that quickly as Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder led the 3 game sweep of the Twins. They have started to put some air between themselves and the reeling Cardinals, but don’t forget those pesky Pirates who remain alive in the NL Central. So far the interleague test against the AL East has been a disappointment as they lost 2 of 3 to both Boston and Tampa Bay. This week they get a test as they travel to Bronx to take on the Yankees.
6. San Francisco Giants (6) 44-34
The best way to respond to a 5 game losing streak that included being swept by the cross bay rivals? How about a 5 game winning streak of your own! Just when it looked like the Posey injury and an anemic offense was starting to catch up to them the Giants got hot. And listen to this stat…the Giants are 10 games above .500, and have been outscored 269-265. That is incredible.
7. Detroit Tigers (Tied 10) 43-36
The scariest thing about Detroit, especially if they win this division is that they have 2 guys on their roster that change the game. Miguel Cabrera is well established as a top 3 hitter in this game, but it’s Justin Verlander who has taken that next step. Verlander has always been an ace, but in 2011 he’s taken the step to elite level. He is a no hit threat every time he takes the mound, and on Saturday he K’d 14 Diamondbacks. It’s getting to the point where fans around the nation are paying attention every 5 days to see what Verlander does next. He’ll next face the Mets on Thursday afternoon.
8. Atlanta Braves (7) 45-35
Uh oh, Jonny Venters is finally starting to look human. Sunday’s loss to the Padres was a punch in the stomach to the NL Wild Card leading Braves. Blowing a lead late to an inept offense with 1 of the most dominating reliever in the NL on the mound is not good, but the Braves remain quite possibly the biggest NL threat to the Phillies. Well, at least until the Giants add another bat or 2.
9. Texas Rangers (5) 41-38
I’m still really surprised the Mets bounced back from Friday’s loss to win 2 of 3 against Texas. A couple of things. First, Josh Hamilton needs to figure out his day game issues. The splits between home and road are insane for Josh, and I don’t know if I’m buying the blue eyes argument. Second, I don’t think Texas is nearly as good as they were last year. Obviously Cliff Lee isn’t there which is a huge difference, but he wasn’t in Texas for the 1st half last year. I don’t know what it is, but the relief pitching isn’t nearly as good, Alexi Ogando has been brought back to earth lately and Hamilton is an injury waiting to happen. Maybe Seattle, the Angels and even the hitless wonders in Oakland can really make this thing interesting.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (NR) 43-37
The D-Backs had won 4 in a row before it quickly turned into a 2 game losing streak thanks to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. Sunday’s loss was brutal. They had a lead with 2 outs in the 8th inning and David Hernandez on the mound, but Cabrera came through and then the floodgates opened. Washington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Seattle were on the doorstep of the 10 spot, but Arizona fends them off by remaining in the thick of the NL West race.
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