How they rank: July 29


Last week’s rankings in parentheses. All stats through Friday’s games:

1. N.Y. Yankees (1): Ichiro had a hit, scored twice and said, “I haven’t had this much fun playing baseball in a long time,” after Yankees beat Red Sox 10-3 Friday. Why would he? He’s been a Mariner for more than a decade.

2. Texas (2): Josh Hamilton — .284 average, 28 homers, league-leading 83 RBIs — hears boos at home Friday night as 0-for-4 extends 7-for-59 slump. “Disappointing,” Hamilton called it. Stupid, we’ll call it. Next time Cowboys fans crack on Philadelphia fans, perhaps they would be served by a moment of reflection.

3. L.A. Angels (3): Angels fans can be enthused about Zack Greinke, but realistic, too. He didn’t come cheaply. All three players traded for him — shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers Ariel Pena and John Hellweg — were ranked among Angels’ top 15 prospects by minorleagueball.com.

4. Washington (4): Nats GM Mike Rizzo says he’ll decide how many innings pitcher Stephen Strasburg will pitch in 2012. “Manager) Davey (Johnson) won’t decide and ownership won’t decide,” Rizzo told ESPN.com. “It will be the general manager, and that’s me.” Sounds like Nats’ first-place status is inflating someone’s ego.

5. Cincinnati (6): Reds have allowed just 12 runs in last seven games, all wins, and two runs or less in six of those. And, yes, Bronson Arroyo has pitched two of them, including 6.2 innings of Friday’s 3-0 win at Colorado.

6. Atlanta (5): Brian McCann, who has 17 in all, homers in sixth straight game vs. Phillies. “I love McCann, but somebody is getting him out,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “Look at that .240 up there . . . .240 is .240.” Yo, Charlie. For the record, McCann is hitting .242, but if it makes you feel worse, it’s .232 vs. everybody not named the Phillies.

7. Pittsburgh (8): Pirate rookie Starling Marte homers on the first major league pitch he sees, first Pirate to do that since Walter Mueller in 1922. Mueller hit only one more, finishing with two career homers and a .275 average in 1926. We’re going to take a risk and say Marte will hit more. And soon.

8. San Francisco (7): Hanley Ramirez’s home run off Giants reliever Sergio Romo in the 10th Friday night ended Romo’s streak of 12.2 scoreless innings and was just the fourth home run he has allowed in his last 89 innings, dating back to 2010.

9. St. Louis (9): Lance Berkman’s homer Friday gave him 1,200 RBIs, good for 146th on the all-time list (Chuck Klein is 145th at 1,201). Teammate Carlos Beltran has 1,217 and is 138th.

10. Chicago White Sox (11): Sox say they’re not worried about Chris Sale, who only reached 92 mph on Friday night. Perhaps they should be. His 124 innings pitched this year are more than his first two pro seasons combined, and approaching the 136 he split between college, minors and majors in 2010.

11. Oakland (12): First-base platoon of Chris Carter and Brandon Moss combining for .631 slugging percentage; 25 of their 42 hits have been for extra bases. Carter has seven homers in 52 at-bats, or one every 7.4.

12. Detroit (10): Justin Verlander made 63rd straight six-innings-or-more start this week in loss to Cleveland; next up is Steve Carlton (69 from 1979-82) and then Bob Gibson, again (78 from 1967-70). Verlander already passed Gibson’s mini-streak of 53 from 1972-73.

13. L.A. Dodgers (13): Stephen Fife, no relation to Barney, makes second straight quality start as call-up despite 4.02 career ERA in minors and walking six while fanning just three.

14. Toronto (15): Jays manager John Farrell denies reports shortstop Yunel Escobar is a problem in the clubhouse. That means he’s only a problem in the field, where his .642 OPS weighs down Jays.

15. Baltimore (17): Manager Buck Showalter defended closer Jim Johnson after Johnson gave up six runs to the A’s Friday. “This is a hard job to do and he’s done it as good as anybody in baseball,” said Showalter. Well, yes. Except for the 61 pitchers whose OPS against is lower than Johnson’s .613.

16. Tampa Bay (16): Has any injury impacted the season more than Evan Longoria’s? Seven Rays — Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez, Jeff Keppinger, Brooks Conrad, Drew Sutton, Will Rhymes and Ryan Roberts — have started at third base after Longoria’s injury. Two of those (Sutton and Conrad) came by waivers, and Roberts, who was designated for assignment by D’backs, would have, but the desperate Rays traded for him first.

17. Boston (14): Red Sox lost 10-3 to Yankees Friday, seventh time this year they’ve allowed double figures. Against Yankees, Sox are 1-6 and have been outscored 59-35.

18. Cleveland (18): Rookie Zach McAllister has pitched into the sixth inning in all 10 starts, has allowed three runs or less in nine of them and just four in the other. ERA of 3.18 is no fluke, as evidenced by 59 Ks in 62.1 innings.

 19. Arizona (19): D’backs owner Ken Kendrick said Justin Upton trade rumors got “way more attention than it deserves.” Right. Think about trading your star 24-year-old outfielder, and the media should focus on  . . . Willie Bloomquist?

20. N.Y. Mets (20): Rookie pitcher Matt Harvey said best part of his 11-strikeout, 2-for-2, 3-1 winning debut was “strike one.” We’re guessing all those strike threes weren’t bad either.

21. Philadelphia (23): Phillies spent $144 million on pitcher Cole Hamels, who newly rich, went out and walked six Braves and lost to free-agent pick-up Ben Sheets 6-1. “Obviously, I didn’t do my job,” said Hamels; left unsaid — no matter what he was getting paid.

22. Miami (21): Manager Ozzie Guillen endorsed the trade deadline, saying, “Because this time (of year), baseball gets boring.” If you’re a fan of the 45-54 Marlins, yes, it certainly does.

23. Milwaukee (22): Brewers are 45-54 and without Zack Greinke, about to get worse. That should make 2012 easier for Brewers’ fans to take, in the way that a 12-0 loss is more palatable than a 4-3 frustration in 12. The Brewers wouldn’t have been very good even if they had re-signed Prince Fielder.

24. Seattle (24): Randy Johnson, who goes into Mariners’ Hall of Fame today, finally has time to pursue what he went to college for: photography. Johnson, who majored in photojournalism and worked at the student paper at Southern California, according to latimes.com, is hard to miss with a camera at rock concerts or sporting events.

25. Kansas City (25): Royals got Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress and the Brewers to take Yuniesky Betancourt when they traded Zack Greinke. That sounds like more than what the Brewers received until you prorate it, given that Grienke is a rental this time and the Brewers won a division with him.

26. Minnesota (26): Scott Diamond’s complete game Friday was just the Twins’ second of the year (P.J. Walters threw the other), but Twins are still 29th in team ERA (4.95) and OPS against (.795). Only Coors Field-aided Rockies are below them.

27. San Diego (27): Kip Wells got second win of 2012; next win will give him his most in any season since 2007, when he was 7-17 for Cardinals.

28. Chicago Cubs (29): Starter Travis Wood allowed homers in each of the first five innings in 9-6 loss to Cards Friday. “Things didn’t go as planned,” said Wood. Neither has the last 100 years, thought Cubs fans.

29. Colorado (28): Rockies may not be winning many games, but they should be winning hearts. Team returned from Arizona early Thursday morning, and then half the Rockies spent Thursday afternoon in the hospital visiting victims of the Aurora theater shooting. “Getting in at 3 in the morning and coming in on our off day?” said outfielder Mike Cuddyer. “That can’t even come close to what’s going on here. There wasn’t even a thought not to come.”

30. Houston (30): Astros have lost last 11, three of four in the ninth inning, 15 of their last 16 in all. “These guys have been battling so well through, ” said manager Brad Mills, “and I’m sure they’re going to come out tomorrow and do the same thing.” We’re guessing he didn’t mean for it to sound quite like it does.

 

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