By Evan Roberts
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1. New York Yankees
Despite running into the buzz saw known as the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees still had a pretty good week. I mean seriously, how can it be a bad week when you get future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki for nothing! That’s exactly what Brian Cashman did, bringing in Ichiro to give the Yankees more depth in the outfield and the speed they’ve been lacking with Brett Gardner on the DL.
2. Texas Rangers
Josh Hamilton is really slumping but Texas, despite losing two of three to Anaheim, still maintains a decent lead in the AL West. How can Jon Daniels upgrade the two-time defending AL champs at the trading deadline? Roy Oswalt was picked up a few months ago, but expect Texas to be in on any big-time starting pitcher available.
3. Washington Nationals
Friday night against Atlanta could have been the moment Nats fans dreaded. The night where reality set in and the losing began. The Nationals blew a 9-0 lead after Stephen Strasburg threw five scoreless innings, and somehow the Nats, who have pitched better than anyone on the planet, blew it! This after they actually tied the game up in the bottom of the ninth against the unstoppable Craig Kimbrel. But give Washington credit. After losing the opener of a double header the next day, the Nats have rattled off three straight wins, including an extra-innings victory against the Mets in Queens.
4. Angels of Anaheim
After a road trip that saw the Angels lose a series to both Detroit and New York, they bounced back by gaining some ground on the first place Rangers. For the Angels to seal the deal on a comeback and catch Texas a few things have to change. It starts with Ervin Santana, who has been awful this season, pitching to an ERA near 6. Dan Haren hasn’t been as bad as Santana but he has underachieved as well.
5. Oakland Athletics
This is not a misprint! The Athletics have jumped from the “non-ranking” section last week all the way to the top five. Sweeping the Yankees of a four game series can do that for a team. While I remain skeptical if they can keep this up, the starting pitching has been outstanding. The scary part is the A’s actually have a whole country of starting pitchers on the DL. If the A’s actually shock the world and make the playoffs, clearly we need to see “Moneyball 2.”
6. Atlanta Braves
As mentioned earlier, the Braves had an amazing comeback in erasing a 9-0 deficit against Washington. But losing the final two games of the series hurt their bid to creep even closer in the NL East. They appear to be very close to acquiring Ryan Dempster, which would be a huge deal in improving the rotation. Speaking of the rotation, how about Ben Sheets, who has returned to the majors with back-to-back performances in which he didn’t allow a run.
7. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are on fire. They have won 12 of 14 and it may be get even better. Next on the docket for the Reds are the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and then the San Diego Padres. That leads up to a big series against Pittsburgh, but the Pirates better watch out. Even without Joey Votto the Reds aren’t losing and if they can take advantage of the weak schedule the Pirates may find themselves in a big hole by the time they meet.
8. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are awake. They swept the Chicago White Sox and then pulled off a very intriguing but high risk trade with the Miami Marlins. They bring in Anibal Sanchez who helps fortify the rotation and they bring back Omar Infante, but the risk is in dealing super prospect Jacob Turner. But again ownership is showing they will do whatever it takes to win now. And oh, by the way, Miguel Cabrera is really, really good.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates
Pirates fans may still be waiting for the other shoe to drop in Pittsburgh, but (knock on wood) so far there has been no brutal extra-inning call to help end the magic (see July loss to Braves last year). The pitching continues to be out of this world, led by AJ Burnett who has rejuvinated himself away from New York.
10. San Francisco Giants
Tim Lincecum appears to be on his way back to respectability, but the 1-2 punch of Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera has given this lineup the jolt it needed. Brian Sabean’s job will now be to find another arm for this pen, and maybe this time he won’t give up a top pitching prospect (see Zach Wheeler) in an attempt to improve his team for the stretch drive.
What’s your Top 10 look like? Be heard in the comments below!