The Houston Astros embarked on their longest road trip of the season about a week ago, seemingly ready for the challenge of playing a first-place team (the Twins), a club that has given them fits over the past several years (Rangers) and one that while struggling this year, is not
The Houston Astros embarked on their longest road trip of the season about a week ago, seemingly ready for the challenge of playing a first-place team (the Twins), a club that has given them fits over the past several years (Rangers) and one that while struggling this year, is not too far removed from two straight pennants (Royals).
With three games remaining on the 10-day jaunt, the Astros have a chance to sweep the entire road trip.
Houston has entered unprecedented territory, setting a franchise record on Monday with its 11th consecutive road win, beating the Royals, 7-3. That win stretched the Astros' overall winning streak also to 11. They've homered in 13 consecutive games, and overall, they're 35-11 when they hit at least one longball.
The Astros, indisputably the best team in baseball, are No. 1 in our weekly Power Rankings for the third time in the past four weeks.
Biggest jump: The Cubs and Tigers each jumped four spots, with the Cubs re-entering the top 10, going from 13 to nine. The Cubs responded from a disastrous West Coast sweep with a sweep of the Cardinals at Wrigley. Could that be what springboards them into looking more like the World Series champs from last year? The end of their current homestand should be fun -- four games against the National League West-leading Rockies.
Biggest drop: The Rangers dropped five spots, from 14 to 19. This reflects a struggling team that continues to search for wins. Since our last rankings roundup, the Rangers have won once. They dropped two of three to the Rays and were swept at home by the Astros.
Power Rankings Top 5:
At 42-16, the Astros are not only off to their best 58-game start in club history (by six games), but they're not far behind the team that holds the record for the most wins in a single season. In 2001, the Mariners, who ended up with 116 wins, were 46-12 after 58 games. During the Astros' current 11-game winning streak, they outscored opponents 89-39. With a win in Kansas City Monday, the Astros are now 22-6 this season on the road.
Bullpen issues aside (though that issue could loom large come October), the Nationals are still the best team in the National League and are having no problem racking up the wins, despite Bryce Harper struggling over the past two weeks. He served a three-game suspension in the middle of a mini-slump, having hit .145 (7-for-47) over a 13-game period. Meanwhile, the Nats have had a fantastic stretch vs. all West Coast teams, sweeping the Giants while taking two of three from the Mariners, Padres and A's.
The Dodgers are loaded, they're deep and they're going to cause headaches for the Rockies all season. This race will be a fun one to track, considering the D-backs are also making a convincing push. Entering their home game with the Nationals on Monday, the Dodgers had won nine of 13 -- though they were shut out twice over a four-game span. The good news? As they began a six-game homestand Monday, the Dodgers were 21-8 at home this year, tied with the D-backs for the best home record in baseball.
The Rockies had a mediocre week, winning three of seven games during a stretch that began with a sweep by the Mariners. Still, the Rockies had the most wins in the NL when they began their off-day on Monday. They also boast one of the best road records in baseball as one of two teams that has surpassed the 20-win mark away from home (also: Astros). That could be good news for the Rox, who, after hosting the Indians for a quick two-game set, head out on the road for seven. But the competition won't be easy; they have four games with the Cubs at Wrigley Field before visiting Pittsburgh for a three-game set.
The first-place Yankees' run differential of +70 is tied with the Nationals for the second-highest in baseball, behind only the Astros (+125). Starting pitchers have the fourth-lowest ERA in the AL (4.13), the bullpen is third in the league at 3.06 and the Aaron Judge-led offense is slugging a collective .453, second-highest behind only Houston. The Yankees' upcoming homestand with the Red Sox and Orioles marks their final intradivision games of June.
The rest of the top 20:
6. Red Sox (7)
7. Diamondbacks (6)
8. Indians (10)
9. Cubs (13)
10. Brewers (9)
11. Orioles (12)
12. Twins (8)
13. Tigers (17)
14. Cardinals (11)
15. Blue Jays (18)
16. Mariners (NR)
17. Rays (16)
18. Marlins (NR)
19. Rangers (14)
20. Pirates (NR)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.