Sober Rankings

1. New York Yankees (69-42) The Yankees completed a gentleman’s sweep over the Red Sox after losing the first eight of the series earlier this season. They’ve now extended their lead to 6.5 games, and sent the Red Sox in to a tie for the wild card. Johnny Damon now has 21 home runs this year, and that might not even be his most amazing stat. That would be the fact that he and Mark Teixiera have gone yard back-to-back six times this season, which is exactly what they did against the Sox yesterday.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (67-45) It’s been a while since the men in blue found themselves looking up at anybody, but three losses in a row to the Braves has dropped them a spot. The Dodgers only have a 5.5 game lead over the Giants, and play a pivotal series in San Francisco starting today.

3. Los Angeles Angels (65-44) They can’t seem to figure out the second place Texas Rangers this season. The Angels are 3-9 against the wild card leaders, and that could be a major concern going down the stretch.

4. Texas Rangers (62-48) Note to everyone: It’s time to take the Rangers seriously. The Rangers, yes the Rangers, have the best ERA (3.54) in the AL since the all-star break! Michael Young has torn it up offensively with eight homers and 15 RBI since the break. What’s amazing is this team still hasn’t seen a hot Josh Hamilton this year. Hamilton is only batting .235 this season.

5. St Louis Cardinals (62-51) The red birds will relish the opportunity to play the Reds and Padres this week and increase their lead in the NL Central. Matt Holliday continues his tear since joining the team batting .466 with 15 RBI in 15 games.

6. Boston Red Sox (62-48) The Sox plummet in the rankings after going 31 straight innings without scoring against Yankee pitching this weekend. They’ve lost six in a row and are playing their worst baseball of the season. They have a huge week against the central leading Tigers and the Rangers, the team they’re now tied with for the wild card.

7. Tampa Bay Rays (61-50) The Rays are in striking distance of the Red Sox, only 1.5 games back. Their mini-sweep of Boston helped them, but today’s series in L.A. is as important as any series this week.

8. Philadelphia Phillies (61-48) The fightin’ phils let the fish get back into the race this weekend after getting swept on their home field. The Phillies have a tough week ahead against the Cubs and resurgent Braves, both on the road.

9. Detroit Tigers (59-51) The Tigers start a huge series on ESPN tonight against the Red Sox. They’ve played consistently well all season. The addition of Jarrod Washburn has yet to pay dividends. Washburn has given up 11 earned runs in his 11.1 IP for the Tigers so far.

10. San Francisco Giants (61-50) We always talk about the Giants starting rotation as unbelievable, but how about giving their bullpen it’s due? The bullpen has the best ERA in baseball of 3.40.

11. Chicago Cubs (58-51) The Cubbies need to get a little bit better in the clutch situations. They’ve scored an NL-worst 130 runs after the 7th inning this season, and will need to put together offense late in games if they want to make the playoffs.

12. Colorado Rockies (61-50) The Rockies will enjoy the SF-LA series because whichever team loses is a win for them. They have a relatively easy part of their schedule during the next two weeks and need to grasp control of the wild card by the end of this period if they have any hopes of making the playoffs.

13. Florida Marlins (58-53) The Marlins get a major jump up the Sober Rankings after sweeping the Phillies. Hanley Ramirez is trying his best to carry this team to an NL East title. He’s batting .348 with 16 HR, 74 RBI and 20 SB.

14. Chicago White Sox (57-55) Rookie Gordon Beckham has emerged as a real threat. Beckham has 20 RBI in 24 games since the all-star break and has hit a healthy .345.

15. Atlanta Braves (58-54) The Braves took three of four from the Dodgers this weekend and find themselves right in the mix of both the east and wild card races. The Braves pitching staff has gotten them there. Javier Vasquez, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens have combined for a 9-0 record since the break.

16. Seattle Mariners (58-53) The Mariners are five over .500 in the ultra-competitive AL West despite being the worst in the AL at batting in runners in scoring position. They are .243 with the least runs scored in the AL in these situations.

17. Milwaukee Brewers (55-56) Casey McGehee has been a pleasant surprise for the brew crew batting .308. It’s been tough for the Brewer pitching staff since the all-star break. None of their starters are below a 4.50 ERA after the break.

18. Houston Astros (55-56) Wandy Rodriguez has regained his early-season form. He’s 5-0 with a microscopic 0.77 ERA since July. Even with Rodriguez’s superb pitching, the bats have to pick him up. The Astros are among the league’s worst in batting average and runs scored.

19. Minnesota Twins (54-57) Joe Mauer continues to terrorize pitchers in the AL. The guy is still batting .365. The team is struggling though, losers of seven of their last nine, but will welcome the opportunities to take on the Royals and Indians this week.

20. Toronto Blue Jays (53-57) Another game, another win for Roy Halladay yesterday. The Jays face about as tough a schedule as it gets the next three weeks. They play the Red Sox (x2), Yankees (x2), Rays (x2), Angels and Rangers… uh-oh…

21. New York Mets (52-59) Losing three of four to the Dbacks and three of four to the Padres was not exactly a good thing. Stick a fork in them, this team is done.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks (50-62) The Dbacks were actually enjoying a quiet hot streak until they ran into that juggernaut in Washington that swept them. This is a team that may play the role of spoiler down the stretch.

23. Oakland A’s (49-62) Since the all-star break and the trades of Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera, the A’s have actually scored the second most runs in baseball.

24. Cleveland Indians (48-63) The tribe has enjoyed their past 16 games going 11-5 in that span. They’re starting to play like the team that was supposed to contend at the beginning of the season… without Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez.

25. Cincinnati Reds (48-62) The Reds offense has been struggling in just about every category, but this one hurts the most. The Reds are batting a league-worst .232 with the bases juiced.

26. San Diego Padres (47-66) There is some good news, rookie Mat Latos has won four of his five career starts. His ERA of 2.43 with 23 strikeouts in 29 innings is quite impressive. Taking three of four from the Mets also had to feel good for the Friars.

27. Baltimore Orioles (46-65) The Orioles take a bit of a tumble down the Sober Rankings this week. They’ve been ranked a little higher all season because of strength of schedule and their young talent, but fall to 27 after a five-loss week.

28. Pittsburgh Pirates (45-66) The eight game losing streak has been ugly. The Pirates lost all eight at home giving up 47 runs in that span. Losing three of four to the Nats wasn’t good, especially considering they’re only 5.5 up on the Nats for the battle of the worst.

29. Kansas City Royals (43-68) Remember a long, long time ago when the Royals had the best ERA in baseball? It’s the exact reverse now, they have a 5.87 ERA and never had an offense to support that. This is why they find themselves only one spot ahead of the suddenly scorching hot Nats.

30. Washington Nationals (40-72) How bout those Washington Nationals? Eight straight wins for the team that was 40 games under .500 at the start of their current streak. They’ve done it by averaging more than seven runs a game. Before the streak, they only averaged 4.2 runs a game.

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