How they rank: June 9

Last rankings in parentheses; stats through Thursday’s games:

  • 1. Houston (1): How dominant are Astros? After 61 games, they’re 43-18 with a 13-game lead and a run differential of +107. After 61 games, 2016 Cubs, who won 103 games and the World Series, were 43-18, nine games up and had a +162 run differential.
  • 2. Washington (2): Bryce Harper fouled a pitch Thursday and the cover came off the ball. No word on when MLB outsourced the making of baseballs to China.
  • 3. L.A. Dodgers (3): Manager Dave Roberts lets Clayton Kershaw, 95 pitches thrown, bat in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday with a 2-1 lead against the Nationals, then sends Pedro Baez out to pitch the eighth. Roberts: “I basically changed my mind.” In politics, it’s call flip-flopping.
  • 4. N.Y. Yankees (4): Because closer Dellin Betances hadn’t pitched since Saturday, manager Joe Girardi brought him into a 9-1 win over the Red Sox Thursday with two outs in the ninth. Girardi: “We told him, ‘You have to pitch to one hitter,’ and Betances faced four, walking two and striking out two (Jackie Bradley fanned but reached on a wild pitch). Girardi: “Worst decision I made today.’’ Yo Joe: Beat the Red Sox and there’s not a Steinbrenner in the three-state area who would offer criticism.
  • 5. Colorado (6): Charlie Blackmon began growing beard in 2013 and tells MLB Network in an interview he’ll keep growing if for “as long it takes.” Takes to do what, he didn’t say, but he’s hitting .337 with a .999 OPS. It’s no time to shave.
  • 6. Arizona (5): Diamondbacks lineup for Thursday had catcher Chris Iannetta hitting second. Iannetta: “I asked if that was a typo.” Apparently not. Iannetta knocked in seven runs and D’backs mashed Padres, 15-3.
  • 7. Boston (7): David Price curses out Boston media Wednesday, “shouting,” according to, “F— them all.” He probably felt the same way Thursday about Gary Sanchez’s two home runs, which led to a short outing and a 9-1 loss.
  • 8. Milwaukee (9): Utilityman Eric Sogard, who had a Nerd Power following in Oakland, says he opts for glasses instead of Lasix surgery because with the former his vision is 20-10 and with the latter it would only be 20-20. Better to see the .414 average he’s toting.
  • 9. Baltimore (10): Edwin Jackson joins O’s, his 12th team in a 15-season career. Some fans try to see a game in every MLB stadium; Jackson’s goal is apparently to play for every MLB team. Only 33, there’s still time.
  • 10. Cleveland (8): Pitcher Corey Kluber wears a Defend Together T-shirt, citing 2016 AL pennant won by Indians and 2016 NBA title won by Cavs. At 29-28, Indians’ defense isn’t going much better than Cavs’, who lost first three games of NBA Finals.
  • 11. Chicago Cubs (13): Jon Lester picks off first runner in two years, Cardinals’ Tommy Pham, who says, “He hasn’t made a successful pick in who knows how long.” Which might say something about your base running, Tommy.
  • 12. Tampa Bay (11): Rays rookie pitcher Jacob Faria debuts with 6.1 inning three-hitter, fanning five and beating White Sox, 3-1. Manager Kevin Cash: “I was just really impressed with the fastball command and not altering his approach, because he’s at a different level now.” Not for long. Rays sent Faria back to the minors before the week was out.
  • 13. Minnesota (14): Twins to pick No. 1 in next week’s amateur draft for third time. Last No. 1 pick was hometown catcher Joe Mauer in 2001, which worked out better than Tim Belcher, who didn’t sign, in 1983.
  • 14. Cincinnati (19): Hall of Fame asks for bat with which Scooter Gennett hit four homers in a game this week, but Scooter declined. Gennett: “I’m still going to use it. It’s pretty hot right now, so I’m going to keep swinging it. When it breaks, they will get it.” Hopefully, they can collect all the splinters for display.
  • 15. Seattle (21): Catcher Mike Zunino, 12-for-72 before demotion, is 15-for-49 since recall with all four of his 2017 homers, including a gamer-winner in the ninth this week. Three weeks in Tacoma will thusly inspire you.
  • 16. Toronto (17): Jason Grilli gets two outs in the eighth inning Saturday vs. Yankees, but throws four home runs, which tops Phillies’ Hector Neris’ back-to-back-to-back home runs vs. Dodgers for worst relief inning of season. Grilli’s ERA rose from 6.35 to 8.15, and he’s allowed nine homers in 17.2 innings. Not easily done.
  • 17. Detroit (20): Joaquin Andujar youneverknow Dept: Buck Farmer, with career 5.87 ERA and 3.86 AAA ERA this year, makes a second straight start mandated by injury a lot like the first: 6.2 shutout innings in a 4-0 win. Farmer has two wins and an 0.00 ERA over 13 innings this year.
  • 18. L.A. Angels (16): Reliever Huston Street, on way back from rehab, says he wants to close. Street: “When I’m right I get that job done pretty well … ” When he’s wrong he doesn’t, as last year’s 6.45 ERA will attest.
  • 19. Texas (15): Joey Gallo, who has 17 home runs, attributes improvement to offseason advice from an old friend. Gallo: “I was standing there looking at my swing in the mirror and he said ‘Stop, just stop.’ He told me to stop thinking about my swing so much. … He told me to just let things go. I’ve been pretty proud of myself for doing that.” Old friend was Bryce Harper, who knows a thing or two about hitting.
  • 20. St. Louis (12): Cardinals lose seven straight on road and shuffle coaches: third-base coach is “reassigned,” replaced by quality-control coach and assistant hitting coach is out. GM John Mozeliak: “. . . we had to do something different. … I think the road trip definitely said we had to do something different. In our case, this was not working. Everybody is frustrated. This is not meeting our expectations.” It’s a lot like a president switching Cabinet positions. None of it addresses the problems: Cards are 27th in runs scored and bullpen is 27th with a 4.84 ERA. Any chance the guy who signed lefty setup man Brett Cecil (5.66 ERA) to a four-year, $30 million contract be reassigned? Since that’s Mozeliak, probably not.
  • 21. Miami (26): Edinson Volquez follows up no-hitter with seven shutout innings vs. Pirates and says, “I think I was better today.” Pirates, limited to three hits, might not argue, and Volquez, who lost his first seven decisions, has won his last three and is now 3-7.
  • 22. Chicago White Sox (18): Outfielder Melky Cabrera takes a swing at a baseball and breaks a guitar in a promo for Country Music night. Across the world The Who’s Pete Townshend felt a thrill and doesn’t know why.
  • 23. N.Y. Mets (22): Noah Syndergaard insists he’s not sorry he declined team’s request for an MRI, despite a couple of months on the DL. “No regrets from me, really,” he said on sports-talk radio in New York. There’s a guy who learns from his mistakes. Or doesn’t.
  • 24. Atlanta (24): Asked how he felt after giving up seven runs in 3.2 innings in 11-4 loss to Phillies Monday, Bartolo Colon says through a translator, “Physically and mentally I still feel good.” Something must have got lost in translation. Colon, 44 and with a 7.78 ERA, went on the DL.
  • 25. Pittsburgh (23): Pirates have no choice but to remove Tony Watson as closer after Watson throws ninth-inning homers and blows saves on back-to-back nights in Baltimore. Juan Nicasio and Felipe Rivero will share the role, if only because the Pirates don’t want Rivero (0.58 ERA, .439 OPS against) coming to arbitration with a bushel of saves.
  • 26. Oakland (25): Trevor Plouffe breaks an 0-for-25 skid with a home run Wednesday. Plouffe: ” … we’re all going to go through streaks like this. For myself, I can handle it. …” Maybe. But the A’s, getting career-low triple slash from Plouffe of .216/.280/.364, probably can’t.
  • 27. Kansas City (27): Closer Kelvin Herrera throws home run in ninth inning of tie game to Houston’s Jose Altuve, his seventh in 24.1 innings this year. Manager Ned Yost: “He’s given up a lot of home runs this year, but it goes in cycles.” Herrera’s seven homers in two months of 2017 are 21.8% of the 32 total he’s given up in six years. Some cycle. Sort of like saying the Great Depression was akin to a 1-for-21 slump.
  • 28. San Francisco (28): Manager Bruce Bochy loses temper after Giants lose series to MLB-worst Phillies, when asked what he would “convey” to his team. “What do you want me to convey? Tell me, what should I convey? They’re … men out there. We have meetings. They know where we’re at.” Where the Giants are at is next-to-last in the NL West, held up only by the even-worse Padres.
  • 29. San Diego (29): Padres manager Andy Green on team’s 23-38 start: “You scan the world to find (positives) and players will latch on to them.” Here’s one: The Phillies are worse.
  • 30. Philadelphia (30): Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt says team can’t build around center fielder Odubel Herrera because of “. . . a language barrier. Because of that, I think he can’t be a guy that would sort of sit in a circle with four, five American players and talk about the game; or try and learn about the game or discuss the inner workings of the game; or come over to a guy and say, ‘Man, you gotta run that ball out.’ ” Schmidt’s insight comes a little late to help the 1971 world champion Pirates, who did OK thanks in great measure to Puerto Rico’s Roberto Clemente.
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