7:10 PM CDT, May 7, 2012
Statistics through Sunday (last week's rank)
1. Rangers (1): Matt Harrison's new and improved sinker hasn't been sinking. Otherwise there's not much to be concerned about even though they've lost three consecutive series. This will be an interesting week with a four-game series against the hot Orioles before returning to Arlington to face Albert Pujols and the Angels.
2. Rays (3): Manager Joe Maddon has stepped up his revolving infield routine with Evan Longoria out. Three different starting third basemen in first six games without Longoria.
3. Braves (6): Twenty-second in scoring a year ago, the Braves are outscoring every team in the majors. Seven of the eight regulars have an OPS of .750-plus, and rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky is trending upward after a slow start.
4. Dodgers (2): Two off nights in Chicago might not have been the perfect formula heading into the weekend series at Wrigley Field, which was Matt Kemp's first without a home run since a two-game trip to Milwaukee in mid-April.
5. Cardinals (4): Started the week with a run differential of plus-62, the best in the majors.
6. Nationals (7): Bryce Harper joined a good team; he didn't make it one.
7. Orioles (12): They loved every minute of misery they caused the Red Sox this weekend, especially the two shutout innings pitched by first baseman Chris Davis on Sunday. Camden Yards is going to be humming with the Rangers in town and the O's having just won five straight from the Yankees and Red Sox.
8. Tigers (8): The dream collection of hitters is eighth in the AL (and third in the AL Central, behind Kansas City and Cleveland) in OPS. Something is not computing.
9. Blue Jays (9): Only team in the AL to have gotten five-plus innings from a starting pitcher in every game this year.
10. Yankees (5): Will a big Sunday in Kansas City awaken a lineup that has been underperforming? Will Brian Cashman make a trade to replace Mariano Rivera?
11. Phillies (11): They've let the Nationals know they're taking them seriously.
12. Angels (18): If Albert Pujols hits from here on out like he did in 2010 (he was on the DL at midseason in '11, so skip back two years), he'll wind up hitting .287 with 36 homers and 100 RBIs. But who's to say he's going to get back on form because he has ended a regular-season homer-less drought that had reached 139 at-bats?
13. Marlins (20): Badly needed winning streak for Team Ozzie. Giancarlo Stanton has announced his presence.
14. Giants (10): Pablo Sandoval's broken hamate bone provides a chance to let Conor Gillaspie get his feet wet. It does nothing to ease the burden on Aubrey Huff, who was sidelined with anxiety issues.
15. Reds (16): Mat Latos has had two scoreless outings in his last three starts.
16. Indians (19): Have beaten the Rangers, White Sox and Angels in their last three series, giving Chris Perez a chance to be first reliever to double-figure saves.
17. Diamondbacks (13): First base platoon of Paul Goldschmidt and Lyle Overbay isn't as productive as Goldschmidt was when he carried the load last August and September. He hits right-handed but batted better against right-handers than lefties a year ago.
18. Mets (14): Power outage in Queens.
19. White Sox (17): Chris Sale move to the bullpen was a shocker, especially for Sale.
20. Athletics (24): Brandon Inge is hitting .174 since joining Oakland, and that has raised his season average to .140. Painful math for him.
21. Red Sox (15): Two five-game losing streaks by May 5 for a team that was put together to make the playoffs. The problem is simple: Fix a pitching staff that is allowing the most runs in the majors. Must be looking at all available options, including the White Sox's Matt Thornton.
22. Rockies (21): Allowing the most runs in the NL, but don't blame Jamie Moyer. His 4.01 ERA is the lowest in the rotation.
23. Astros (30: It's all about Jose Altuve and his .352 average.
24. Brewers (22): Shortstop Alex Gonzalez's season-ending knee injury is a real crippler. It comes on the heels of losing first baseman Mat Gamel.
25. Pirates (25): Is the real Pedro Alvarez finally standing up?
26. Mariners (23): Seven-game losing streak spoiled what had been a solid April.
27. Royals (26): Nothing is holding these guys back more than the stunted development of Luke Hochevar, a supposed No. 1 starter with a 5.46 career ERA after 600-plus innings. He has allowed seven-plus runs three times already.
28. Cubs (29): History says it's time for a flurry of homers from Alfonso Soriano, which would provide a huge lift.
29. Padres (27): Loss of lefty Cory Luebke creates a chance for Jeff Suppan to get back to big leagues.
30. Twins (28): Ranked in the bottom three teams in AL in OPS from catcher, first base, second base, third base and right field, with Michael Cuddyer's old spot in right the biggest void. Six players have started there, combining for a .156 average.
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