This week’s rankings; previous rankings (1/30) in parentheses:
1. Detroit (7): Justin Verlander throws eight scoreless innings in both starts and wins neither. Last pitcher to do that, according to Elias Sports Bureau via espn.com, was Minnesota’s Pete Redfern in 1980, whose Twins lost both despite manager Gene Mauch and closer Mike Marshall.
2. Tampa Bay (4): Tampa Bay Times reported 14 fans had legally parked cars towed on Opening Day. Who knew? Rays have fans?
3. Texas (1): Manager Ron Washington said “I’m not concerned,” about closer Joe Nathan, who has a loss and blown save in his first four appearances. He should be, but if your team blew the World Series when a strike away from winning, what’s a game in April vs. the Mariners?
4. St. Louis (6): Albert who?
5. N.Y. Yankees (2): Jorge Posada throws out first pitch at home opener. We’re betting he argues the call.
6. Arizona (8): D’backs winning but not dominating — of five wins, three were by one run and two by two runs (one in 11 innings).
7. Toronto (14): Manager John Farrell says second-year pitcher Kyle Drabek, who beat the Red Sox, “can be as good as anybody we have in our rotation.” Let’s see Drabek get out of the sixth inning before we overdo the praise.
8. Philadelphia (3): Closer Jonathan Papelbon picks Alice in Chain’s Man in the Box for his new entrance song, even though Layne Staley said, “I was really stoned when I wrote it.” Too bad it was too late for Bill Lee.
9. Washington (16): Gio Gonzalez on first big-league hit: “I (heard) one of the players say, ‘The more you put it into play, the (better the) chances it gets (to be a hit).” Are you listening Mark Reynolds?
10. Milwaukee (11): John Axford has 45 straight saves, but you can’t tell it by his 2012. He’s retired seven batters, all by strikeouts: otherwise he’s given up two hits, three walks and one batter has reached by error.
11. L.A. Dodgers (19): The Dodgers’ fast start has had everything but 84-year-old Vin Scully (bad cold) behind the mike. When he gets there, it will be his 63rd season with the Dodgers, going back to 1950 and Brooklyn. Get well soon, Vin.
12. L.A. Angels (5): Mark Trumbo working with sports psychologist to build his confidence, according to mlb.com. Here’s a simple diagnosis: Get him off third base, where he’s made three errors in first two games.
13. Atlanta (9): Chipper Jones to two longtime reporters: “When is the last time you ever saw me stretching in the clubhouse? I can tell you. You’ve never seen it.” Might help explain all those games missed to injury.
14. Cincinnati (10): Reds sign Brandon Phillips for six years, $72 million; between Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Phillips, Reds have signed off on $375 million in contract extensions that will go through 2023, 2016 and 2017, respectively. The Yankees called, concerned about fiscal sanity.
15. Boston (12): Ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona won’t partake of ceremonies celebrating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. Who can blame him? Why be associated with this losing team if you don’t have to?
16. Miami (13): Former NBA star Charles Barkley said he tried to reach out to suspended Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. Just what Ozzie needs. Advice from someone so careless with their own words they once claimed they were misquoted — in their autobiography.
17. San Francisco (15): Giants ace Tim Lincecum had four inches of hair cut before 17-8 loss to Rockies, according to mercurynews.com. Lincecum would do well to reread the story of Samson.
18. N.Y. Mets (22): ESPN New York is having a contest to name the 50th greatest Met, in tribute to their 50th anniversary season. One of the multiple-choice options is Timo Perez? The Timo Perez? We’re going to assume they’re joking, or we’re going to have to fight the urge to write in Doug Flynn.
19. Kansas City (17): Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur ordered 20 pizzas for fans in the right-field seats in Oakland Wednesday. One question: Pick-up or delivery? (Which reminds of the Ball Four anecdote about the late Moe Drabowsky, who once called a Chinese restaurant from the bullpen to order food to go. In Hong Kong.)
20. Colorado (18): Of Rockies’ nine-man coaching staff, 49-year-old Jamie Moyer pitched to three (Carney Lansford, Glenallen Hill and Vinny Castilla) , and is older than two (Hill and Castilla).
21. Chicago White Sox (21): Reliever Matt Thornton on Adam Dunn’s relationship with White Sox fans in 2011: “When he got a base hit against a lefty, there was a mockery cheer.” Not sure how Thornton recalls so vividly, given that Dunn had only six hits vs. lefties all year.
22. Baltimore (25): Orioles manager Buck Showalter puts Mark Reynolds, 26 errors in 2011, back in the lineup after Reynolds committed his second in the first five games. Says Showalter: ” I just thought it was important for him to get right back on the horse.” No comment from the horse.
23. Seattle (29): ESPNNewYork’s Adam Rubin reported that Mariners’ farm system had produced 36 players on Opening Day rosters, most in baseball. Too bad that list included ex-Mariners Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, J.J. Putz, Shin-Soo Choo, Brandon Morrow and Adam Jones, and current Mariners Kyle Seager, Erasmo Ramirez and Muenori Kawasaki.
24. Pittsburgh (24): Pirates could be outscored by Penguins — they have just 11 runs in first six games (1.8 per game) and are slugging .293 as a team. If you go, don’t sit in the outfield — the Pirates can’t reach it.
25. Minnesota (26): Joe Mauer hit second career home run Thursday at Target Field; still trails new teammate Josh Willingham, who has four career homers at Target in 24 at-bats — or 385 less at-bats than Mauer.
26. Houston (30): Wandy Rodriguez starts opener, commits an error and teammates commit three more; Astros play four errorless games before Rodriguez starts again, commits an error and his teammates commit three more. “We are concerned,” says manager Brad Mills. Wandy should be, too.
27. Cleveland (20): Johnny Damon, just 277 hits away from 3,000, joins Indians. Of the 28 players to reach 3,000 hits, three did so while playing for Cleveland — Tris Speaker in 1925, Eddie Murray in 1995 and Nap Lajoie in 1914 with the Cleveland Naps. No other team has had more than two.
28. Chicago Cubs (23): Cubs get to watch Cardinals get World Series rings Friday. That’s 11 World Series Cards have won since Cubs last did in 1908, but who’s counting? Besides Cardinals fans.
29. Oakland (28): A’s offer free tickets to future game for all fans at rain-shortened loss Tuesday to Kansas City. No truth to rumor most of them declined.
30. San Diego (27): Reliever Josh Spence’s role? Retire Miguel Montero. Recalled from minors, Spence has pitched to one batter in two games, each time Montero, each time retiring him. What will Padres do with Spence now that D’backs have left town?