If we had to use one word to describe the recent holiday weekend, we'd have to go with ... wacky.It was a stretch where several of baseball's elites -- specifically, three of our top five teams in this week's MLB Power Rankings -- were on the losing end of some
If we had to use one word to describe the recent holiday weekend, we'd have to go with ... wacky.
It was a stretch where several of baseball's elites -- specifically, three of our top five teams in this week's MLB Power Rankings -- were on the losing end of some of the more lopsided outcomes we've seen this season.
The Cubs lost to the Mets on Sunday, 14-3, the same day the Indians were pummeled by the Blue Jays, 17-1. On Saturday, the Rangers lost to the Twins by a score of 17-5.
Honorable mention goes to the No. 8-ranked Red Sox, who dropped a 21-2 decision to the Angels, a team that had lost 10 of 11 entering that Saturday contest.
What does this all mean long term? Probably very little. It is safe to assume, however, that more than one big league pitching coach is happy the All-Star break is coming up soon.
Biggest jump: For all of the drama that seems to be following the Mets around this season, they could not have asked for a better series against one of baseball's best teams. The Mets pulled off the unlikeliest of scenarios, taking all four games of a weekend series against the Cubs at Citi Field, including Sunday's 14-3 victory. For that, the Mets jumped five spots in our Power Rankings, from 12 to 7.
Biggest fall: The Marlins lost four of five this week before notching a 5-2 win in their historic Fort Bragg Game Sunday night against the Braves, falling from 10 to 16. That might be a tad extreme, though; the Marlins have been one of the more pleasant first-half stories, having spent a few days in second place in the National League East, giving the Mets a challenge for that spot. And they're winning despite Giancarlo Stanton still not quite in a rhythm at the plate. Early returns suggest the Marlins will be very much in the thick of things come September.
Our top 5
It's really not been a great stretch for any of the top-ranked teams, but in terms of skids, the Giants managed to keep theirs brief, and with limited damage. They dropped three of four in a home-and-home series with the A's, a forgivable stumble given they still have one of the best records in baseball at 52-32. They have maintained a modestly comfortable lead in their division thanks in large part to simply beating their NL West foes. They're 26-14 in that category, winning 16 of their past 19, and 21 of their past 26 within the division.
It's not unusual for a starting pitcher to hit a bit of a rough patch over the course of a season, but when almost every member of one rotation goes through it at the same time, things get magnified. Such is life for the Cubs, who are still on pace for over 100 wins (they are at the exact halfway point, and are projected for 102 wins), but just aren't very good right now. Jake Arrieta hasn't completed six innings in his past three outings. Jon Lester, the NL's Pitcher of the Month for June, was rocked by the Mets in his outing on Sunday. Jason Hammel had a rough go in his last start, too. The Cubs will switch to a temporary six-man rotation heading into the All-Star break, inserting the now stretched-out Adam Warren into the mix for a spot start against the Reds. Good news if you're a Cubs fan -- they will spend the first half of the upcoming week at home, playing the Reds, whom they swept in Cincinnati last week, and the Braves, who will be in town for a makeup game on Thursday.
Good times are rolling in Believeland, where it took two weeks following the Cavs' NBA championship for the Indians to actually lose a game. A few fun numbers from the Tribe's club record 14-game win streak, which ended Saturday in Toronto: the Indians outscored opponents 82-27, hit .295 with 57 extra-base hits and averaged 5.9 runs per game. The pitching staff through the streak had a 1.58 ERA -- 1.83 for the starters and 0.79 for the 'pen. Overall, opponents batted .176 and were shut out three times. Talk about a perfect storm.
A recent 17-5 pummeling by the Twins notwithstanding, the Rangers continue to prove they are one of baseball's elite teams based on what didn't happen when they were playing short-handed. Despite missing three key components of their rotation, the Rangers went 7-6 over a two-week stretch -- and they'll take that, considering they've had to piece things together without Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis. The good news for Rangers fans is that Holland and Darvish are close to returning.
The Nationals bulldozed their way through the past week, outscoring the Mets and Reds by a combined total of 52-22. They lost once -- on Saturday, a 9-4 defeat to Cincinnati. They responded with a 12-1 landslide win in Sunday's finale. The solid week of work protected their lead in the NL East, where they are five games ahead of the Mets.
6. Orioles (5)
7. Mets (12)
8. Red Sox (7)
9. Blue Jays (8)
10. Astros (11)
11. Dodgers (9)
12. Cardinals (13)
13. Royals (14)
14. Tigers (18)
15. Mariners (15)
16. Marlins (10)
17. Pirates (17)
18. White Sox (19)
19. Yankees (16)
20. Rockies (20)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.