Buckle up and enjoy some California-dreaming two-team races to the finish in both West Coast divisions.
With two-plus months remaining in the regular season, four of the five California-based teams (sorry, Padres) are in the hunt for the two division championships up for grabs. All four – Athletics, Angels, Giants and Dodgers – contenders figure to continue their seasons into October.
Among the most meaningful series this week is a three-game set between the Angels and Orioles in Baltimore that starts Tuesday night. The Angels lost two-of-three close games against the AL East leaders last week in Anaheim, although MLB actually calls it “Los Angeles of Anaheim.”
There are a couple of dandy series coming up in the NL West. The Giants host the Pirates in a three-game series beginning Monday night while the Dodgers entertain the Braves at Dodger Stadium, starting on Tuesday night.
Now for the GW Power Rankings:
1. Athletics (2): After falling out of the top spot in the GW rankings last week, the A’s responded with seven wins in their past 10 games to regain the top spot.
2. Angels (1): Nine of their 10 games since the All-Star break have been decided by either one or two runs.
3. Dodgers (3): For whatever reason, skipper Don Mattingly doesn’t get the credit he deserves considering the cast of characters he has on his roster.
4. Giants (5): GM Brian Sabean has a history of making deals around the non-waiver trade deadline and he figures to add to his legacy this week.
5. Mariners (4): Good pitching always has stopped good hitting, but these days even mediocre pitching can put the clamps on a woefully inept Seattle offense.
6. Astros: (6): With no big contracts to dump, the improving Astros figure to be spectators leading up Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.
7. Padres (7): Remember back in the day when Carlos Quentin (.177 batting average) was an offensive force to be reckoned with? Not so much nowadays.
8. Diamondbacks (9): Add C Miguel Montero to the loooooong list of MLB players totally confused by the new no-blocking-of-home-plate rule that rarely is called the same way.
9. Rockies (8): All eyes are on the front office this week as club officials decide the immediate future of All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
10. Rangers (10): For the first time in several years, the perennial playoff contenders enter the final two months of the regular season as non-factors in the playoff race.
(Last week’s ranking in parenthesis)