MLB POWER POLL (Division Leaders in bold): July 18
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Boston Red Sox
3. New York Yankees
4. Texas Rangers
5. Atlanta Braves
6. San Francisco Giants
7. Milwaukee Brewers
8. Detroit Tigers (tie)
9. St. Louis Cardinals
10. Cleveland Indians (tie)
11. Tampa Bay Rays
12. Arizona Diamondbacks
13. Pittsburgh Pirates
14. Los Angeles Angels
15. New York Mets
16. Cincinnati Reds
17. Toronto Blue Jays
18. Washington Nationals
19. Chicago White Sox
20. Florida Marlins
21. Colorado Rockies
22. Minnesota Twins
23. Los Angeles Dodgers
24. Seattle Mariners
25. Oakland Athletics
26. San Diego Padres
27. Kansas City Royals
28. Baltimore Orioles
29. Chicago Cubs
30. Houston Astros
- Rangers on the Run: After sweeping the Mariners this weekend, the Rangers have won their last 11 games, the longest winning streak of the season in the Majors. In the course of this weekend’s win extension, All-Star CJ Wilson remained undefeated in his last 10 starts. The defending AL Champs are back at full strength, and could be the team to watch in the second half if that holds true.
- Boston defends the throne…no matter how long it takes: It took 16 innings to pull out, but the Red Sox knocked off the Rays at home to win their first series of the second half. Rays starter Jeff Niemann gave up two hits over eight innings, but was bettered by Josh Beckett’s eight inning, one hit effort over…which still wasn’t enough. The stare down continued into the 5 more scoreless innings by each bullpen until Dustin Pedroia knocked in the game’s only run in the top of the 16th inning for the win. And they get rewarded now with Carl Crawford returning from the disabled list today. Once again, the AL East is greatest show in the game.
- Brewers Strike First: The Brewers kicked into the trade season first, landing Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets for a couple of minor leaguers. Initially it was debated whether he would be allowed to close out games due to being owed an extra year and a ton of money if he ended out 55 games. Well the Mets are scraping their pennies together and the Brewers are pulling out all stops to win in what is probably the best chance they’ll have for a long time. Not only did they land the single season saves leader to be a part-time closer, but even got him to waive the clause in his contract that bumped his pay up with an extra year, for a one-time pay out right now. The Brewers aren’t playing games.
- Opposites Attract: While the Rangers seem to have forgotten how to lose, the Mariner’s have definitely become the Yang to their Yin. After hanging around the top of the West and capitalizing on the blandness of the division for much of the first half, they have now dropped nine straight games and have fallen 11.5 behind the leaders. Well…it was fun while it lasted M’s.
- All Hands off Deck: For much of the first half, Ryan Braun was swinging the best bat in the game and trading off on rights to MVP honors with teammate Prince Fielder. Shortly afterwards a thigh injury pulled him off the field in the middle of a 22 game hitting streak, missed the All-Star Game while resting the leg and was removed from Saturday’s game because of it as well. The Brewers are in great shape, but they will not win without Braun ready to go every night.
- Twin Killings: The Minnesota Twins are making a push. After having a first half with injuries to both of their former MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, as well as former All-Stars Delmon Young, Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, they are still in play in the AL Central, a division that is completely in play. However, now they have lost their most dependable starter in Scott Baker to a elbow injury while they are still struggling to pull Denard Span and Jason Kubel back as well…these guys can’t win for losing. Somebody call the Red Cross.
HIT AND RUNS for Monday, July 18, 2011:
Biggest Lead: Texas Rangers, 4 games in the AL West
Smallest Lead: Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, tied in the AL Central
Leading Hitter: Jose Reyes, Mets (.354)
Top 3 Sluggers: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (31), Lance Berkman – Cardinals, Mark Teixeira – Yankees, Curtis Granderson – Yankees (25)
Most Wins: CC Sabathia, Yankees (14)
Biggest Debut: Mike Trout, Angels (July 8th)
Best/Worst Record: Phillies (59-35, .628%), Astros (31-64, .326%)
Wild Cards if it Ended Today: Braves (56-39) & Yankees (55-37)