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Rangers rise in Power rankings as races heat

Wild Card contenders emerge as Dodgers continue to dominate
MLB.com @alysonfooter

The second Wild Card spot in the American League has pretty much been a merry-go-round for most of the past couple of months. That's what happens when so many teams with records a shade above or just below .500 have yet to either pull away from the pack, or just get buried.

As a result, the door has opened for a handful of surprising clubs who have steadily climbed up the standings, on the strength of a couple of good weeks in the win-loss column. And three weeks into August, it appears the Angels are making a push.

The second Wild Card spot in the American League has pretty much been a merry-go-round for most of the past couple of months. That's what happens when so many teams with records a shade above or just below .500 have yet to either pull away from the pack, or just get buried.

As a result, the door has opened for a handful of surprising clubs who have steadily climbed up the standings, on the strength of a couple of good weeks in the win-loss column. And three weeks into August, it appears the Angels are making a push.

Few teams have performed better of late than the Angels, who are 13-6 this month. They have pushed themselves three games over the .500 mark, at 64-61 and they had limited opponents to just 35 runs over 11 games, from Aug. 8 vs. the Orioles through Aug. 20 vs., again, the Orioles.

Including the two AL Wild Card front-runners, the Yankees and Angels, eight teams are theoretically in this race. The eighth team -- the Rays -- are four games out of the second spot.

Biggest jump: The Rangers are up five spots, from No. 19 to No. 14. Winners of eight of 11 after Monday's win in Anaheim, Texas is again relevant in the AL Wild Card conversation. Though they began their series with the Angels a game under .500, the Rangers will began play Tuesday just 2 games back of the second AL Wild Card spot. If Texas is going to go on a run, it'll have to do it without Matt Bush for a while, after the reliever injured his right knee in a collision with teammate Joey Gallo. Gallo's return date is TBD, as he's undergoing concussion protocol after suffering a nasal fracture.

Biggest drop: The D-backs dropped five spots, from No. 6 to No. 11. What looked like a foregone conclusion -- that Arizona and Colorado would duke it out in the National League Wild Card Game -- appears to be a little murkier now that both teams have come back to the pack a bit. The D-backs are 19-29 since June 28. Over that span, the rotation has compiled an ERA well over four, and the bullpen is also underperforming to the tune of a 4.80 ERA.

Power Rankings Top 5

1. Dodgers (1 last week)
The Dodgers are 20 1/2 games ahead of the next-best team in the NL West, and their win total is so off the charts that they've officially eliminated the Giants, even though more than five weeks remain in the season. What more is there to say about the Dodgers in this magical season? Even the new guy, Curtis Granderson, needed no time to get adjusted to his new team; he hit a grand slam against the Pirates on Monday, adding to an impressive three-week stretch during which he has eight homers and 19 RBIs over 16 games, dating back to his time with the Mets.

Video: LAD@PIT: Granderson belts a go-ahead slam in the 7th

2. Red Sox (2)
The Red Sox are 17-10 over the past month, which puts them just behind the Indians for the best record in the AL during that span. Even with their loss in Cleveland Monday, Boston has still won 14 of 18. Andrew Benintendi is batting .375 (24-for-64) with six homers, 16 RBIs, and 15 runs scored in his past 16 games.

Video: BOS@CLE: Benintendi rips a two-run homer for the lead

3. Nationals (3)
The Nats have weathered several injuries to key players all season, so it should come as little surprise that even the loss of Bryce Harper hasn't affected the win-loss column for the first-place Washigton. More good news: the team seems to be on the mend. Even better news: the bullpen is no longer a source of ridicule. In fact, the relief corps was recently named Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford after allowing three earned runs over a collective 16 innings.

Video: Doolitte leads Nats to Bullpen of the Week honors

4. Indians (5)
The early exit of Andrew Miller on Monday during the opener with the Red Sox notwithstanding, the Indians are rolling along in the dog days of August, having won 21 of 30 dating back to July 21. Over the past 30 games, Cleveland starters have a cumulative ERA under 3.00, and offensively, the Tribe is clicking, thanks in part to recently-acquired Jay Bruce, who has hit safely in 11 games, with eight extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored during that span.

Video: MLB Tonight looks at Bruce's torrid play with Tribe

5. Astros (4)
It would be hard for the Astros to maintain their torrid pace from the first half of the season, given the rash of injuries to so many players, but they're getting healthy and are still in firm control of the AL West lead. The Astros' 1.82 bullpen ERA in August is best in the Major Leagues. Joe Musgrove has excelled since his move from the rotation, throwing 10 1/3 scoreless innings this month.

Video: OAK@HOU: Bregman launches a solo homer to left

The rest of the Top 20

6. Cubs (8)
7. Yankees (10)
8. Angels (12)
9. Rockies (7)
10. Twins (14)
11. D-backs (6)
12. Cardinals (9)
13. Brewers (11)
14. Rangers (19)
15. Mariners (18)
16. Royals (13)
17. Pirates (15)
18. Rays (16)
19. Orioles (17)
20. Marlins (20)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.