How they rank: 9/15


How they rank with last rankings in parentheses; stats through Thursday’s games:

  • 1. Cleveland (4): All credit to the Indians for their 22-game AL-record win streak. Indians won seven by shutout and outscored opponents by 105 runs, 142-37. That’s impressive even if 10 wins, almost half, were against the stripped-down 60-86 Tigers and 59-87 White Sox (in fairness, Win No. 1 was at Boston and three more at Yankee Stadium).
  • 2. L.A. Dodgers (1): Yu Darvish throws seven shutout innings after giving up 13 hits and 10 runs in previous 7.1 innings. Darvish, through an interpreter, said the difference was “a secret,” and “I have lots of secrets.” Dodgers would be happy if his talent wasn’t one of them.
  • 3. Washington (3): Dusty Baker says outfielder Bryce Harper, out since Aug. 12, is “running lightly.” That’s how the Nats, 8-6 in their last 14, are playing.
  • 4. Houston (2): Mike Fiers upset by former teammate Louis Valbuena’s bat flip, throws behind him next time up. Fiers: “You watch this game and you know what goes on. What he did to me, I took it as disrespect. Obviously, I played with Valbuena and I have no hard feeling towards him, but when you do something like that, as disrespectful as he did, you’ve got send some kind of message. I’m not trying to hit him, but something has to be said.” MLB had the last word: Fiers was suspended five games, probably not so much for throwing at Valbuena but for admitting it.
  • 5. Arizona (5): Diamondbacks beat Dodgers six straight, outscore them 40-13 and hold them to two runs in three games at Dodgers Stadium. It’s enough to make you wonder if closer Fernando Rodney, who saved four of those wins and said he wanted to face the Dodgers in the postseason, wasn’t right. Even more, if former GM Dave Stewart, who was pilloried for trading No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson, wasn’t right. OK, the last one is a pitch too far.
  • 6. Boston (7): Anti-racism sign hung at Fenway Park over the Monster Wednesday was confiscated, Red Sox said, because of club policy. I thought it was club policy to steal signs, but maybe that’s only from the Yankees.
  • 7. N.Y. Yankees (8): Dellin Betances upset with manager Joe Girardi after being pulled in the eighth inning vs. the Rays with one on and two out of a 3-2 game. Betances: “I don’t know if there’s an explanation that I’m going to take.” That’s OK because manager Joe Girardi wasn’t offering much of one beyond, “I have to do what my gut tells me. That’s what I’m paid to do.” Let’s expand on Girardi’s behalf: Dellin, if you hadn’t already blown three saves this year, or walked 41 batters in 55.1 innings, or thrown a ninth-inning homer to Manny Machado last week, maybe your manager would trust you more than Craig Carton.
  • 8. Chicago Cubs (6): Rookie Jen-Ho Tseng gives up five hits, five runs, two homers and a walk in three innings, hits a batter and commits an error, then said through a translator, that he was nervous. That came through the language barrier loud and clear.
  • 9. St. Louis (13): Matt Carpenter’s 101 walks are a career-high and third in MLB (Joey Votto, 122; Aaron Judge, 110). All those bases on balls have helped Carpenter, hitting .239, to a .384 on-base percentage that’s the second-best of his career.
  • 10. Colorado (9): 2007 Rockies reunite Friday to celebrate the franchise’s lone World Series appearance (they were swept by Boston). Todd Helton’s No. 17 is the only retired uniform number from that team. What, no Yorvit Torrealba?
  • 11. Milwaukee (10): Corey Knebel, who had two career saves and a 4.02 ERA entering 2017, has 35 of the former and a 1.32 of the latter in 2017. He leads major-league relievers with 115 strikeouts, one more than Boston’s Craig Kimbrel, though Knebel has pitched seven more innings.
  • 12. Minnesota (12): Jose Berrios, who’s already thrown a career-high 175.2 innings, says he’s fatigued after a spotty 5.2 inning, five-hit, four-walk, no-decision Thursday.  “We don’t want to push him too far,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, but we’ll see what he says should the Twins win the wild-card game and he has to choose between Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee to start in the divisional series.
  • 13. L.A. Angels (11):  Louis Valbuena says he’ll continue to flip his bat. As long as he can hit off Mike Fiers, he probably will.
  • 14. Seattle (18): Mellow Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano had played in 1,981 major-league games and never been ejected … until Game No, 1,982.  Home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza called Cano out on a checked-swing third strike and tossed him when questioned. Cano, from seattletimes.com: “What he did was so stupid. I didn’t say anything. I just asked him why he didn’t check it or you should’ve checked that one. He said, ‘you better go.’ But I said, ‘I was just asking you if you can check that.’ He was like, ‘You better go.’ And I said, ‘I’m just asking you a question.’ And then he threw me out.” Sounds like Carapazza missed his calling. Should have been a White House press secretary.
  • 15. Texas (14): Rangers told prospect Willie Calhoun, acquired for Darvish, they’d see him in February since there weren’t enough at-bats on the varsity. Then Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Carlos Gomez got hurt and there were plenty of vacancies in the lineup. Except Rangers couldn’t reach Calhoun, who had gone to dinner without his cell phone. Fortunately his girlfriend had hers. Makes you wonder how anybody got called up in September 20 years ago.
  • 16. Tampa Bay (15): Chris Archer, who has 14.14 ERA in three September starts and has allowed 17 hits and three homers, says his arm is fine. Archer: “There’s no excuse. I’m just not doing what I get paid to do. It’s tough because it’s been a while when I’ve had a 10-day span when it’s been inconsistent.” Actually, Archer has been perfectly consistent — consistently bad.
  • 17. Baltimore (16): Closer Zach Britton, who allowed just 38 hits in 67 innings last year, has allowed that many in 35 innings this year. Which explains why his OPS against has gone from .430 last year to .698 this.
  • 18. Miami (17):  Giancarlo Stanton, who’s had two home runs in a game eight times this year, has three assists in 15-inning game against Phillies, including the potential game-winning run in the ninth, which was only determined by review. The Marlins being the Marlins, they lost in 15.
  • 19. Kansas City (19): Mike Moustakas keeps playing on a bad right knee, saying he can’t “afford to (rest) it right now.” His grit is admirable, but perhaps not helpful. Moustakas is 12 for his last 57 with just three extra-base hits and has homered just once — a team record-tying 36th (Steve Balboni) — since Aug. 16. Pretty soon free agent Moustakas will have all winter to rest up for his new team.
  • 20. Pittsburgh (20): Paul Zeise’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column headlined: Glasnow is the key to the Pirates’ future rotation. Tyler Glasnow, who had a 2.02 minor-league ERA and .172 batting average against, has a 6.83 big-league ERA and .307 batting average against in 20 games. Another reminder that young pitchers require lots of patience.
  • 21. Toronto (21): Justin Smoak’s 38 homers are not only a personal best, they’ll  double his previous high if he hits two more. According to baseball-almanac.com, Smoak would be the 10th Blue Jay to hit 40 homers. The first nine: Jose Bautista (54 in 2010, 43 in 2011 and 40 in 2015), George Bell (47 in 1987), Jose Canseco (46 in 1998), Carlos Delgado (44 in 1999, 42 in 2003 and 41 in 2000),  Edwin Encarnacion (42 in 2016 and 2012), Shawn Green (42 in 2009), Josh Donaldson (41 in 2015),  Tony Batista (41 in 2000) and Jesse Barfield (40 in 1986). Honestly, who remembered Tony Batista?
  • 22. Atlanta (22): Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz forced out of Thursday’s game with a cut finger and replaced by Matt Wisler, who has an 8.60 ERA. Predictably, he turns a 3-2 deficit into a 5-2 deficit. When asked why Wisler, manager Brian Snitker says, “Didn’t have anybody else, really,” which hardly sounds like an endorsement of the roster management has given him. Managers who say things like that are usually bench coaches at a new locale the next season.
  • 23. N.Y. Mets (23): Amed Rosario, Travis d’Arnaud latest Mets hurt. Jon Heyman tweet: “trade worked out nicely for jay bruce. came to team with 22 wins in a row from one with 22 injuries in a row.”
  • 24. Cincinnati (25): Reds pitchers have thrown 232 home runs, more than any team in MLB. Four Reds — Tim Adleman (29), Bronson Arroyo (23), Amir Garrett (23 in 67.1 innings) and Scott Feldman (21) — have thrown more than 20, and all four have either been farmed or injured for much of the year. Sounds like the perfect young staff for Mike Fiers to mentor.
  • 25. Oakland (27): A’s will open the Coliseum for free next April 17 to celebrate 50 years in town. Assuming it’s a full house of 47,000 — even if it’s against the 59-87 White Sox — A’s will probably still come out ahead with what a sellout crowd spends on concessions compared to an average crowd (18,503 this season, and a Tuesday night in April would be less than that) on tickets and concessions.
  • 26. Detroit (24): Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and catcher James McCann ejected by home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, who then takes a pitch in the shoulder when McCann’s replacement, John Hicks, misses a Buck Farmer fastball. Hicks: “Any thoughts of us trying to do that on purpose are just ridiculous.” Perhaps. MLB reportedly investigating, but Tigers’ best defense is that they’re the Tigers — they haven’t caught much of anything in a 60-86 season.
  • 27. San Diego (26): Joaquin Andujar youneverknow Dept.: Padres neglected to protect Jose Pirela on 40-man roster last winter and signed him to a minor-league contract. He leads Padres in average (.288), OPS (.837), doubles (tied with 25) and slugging percentage (.490). Pirela: “They hadn’t seen the real Jose Pirela. … That’s what pushed me to come back and show what I can do.” That, maybe, and the next contract.
  • 28. Chicago White Sox (29): White Sox so desperate for pitching they promote Chris Volstad, who broke in with Marlins as 21-year-old rookie in 2008 and was last in a rotation in 2012 with the Cubs, for whom he was 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA. Volstad hasn’t improved much since — he was 3-10 with a 5.57 ERA and 161 hits allowed in 118 innings at AAA this year. You have to think someone throwing out the first pitch would have as much chance to get big-league hitters out.
  • 29. Philadelphia (30): Rhys Hoskins, who’s played 34 games, is third on the team with 18 homers, just two behind Maikel Franco and three behind team leader Tommy Joseph. It’s conceivable that Hoskins, who’s already taken Joseph’s job, could take the team home run lead away from him too, playing a third of the season.
  • 30. San Francisco (28): Ryan Vogelsong returning to San Francisco this weekend to retire as a Giant. The same Ryan Vogelsong who was 48-49 with a 3.93 ERA in seven years with the Giants. At 57-91 and and nine games behind the Padres, Giants fans need all the nostalgia they can get.
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