San Diego has been the biggest surprise in the first half, with Mat Latos and an incredible bullpen pushing the Padres to the front of the NL West. Cincinnati also has stepped up behind Dusty Baker, pitching coach Bryan Price and the Big Red Machine II. And how about Texas ? the numbers said Vladimir Guerrero’s acquisition was apropos. It was.
RK Team REC CHG 1 Yankees 52-31 –
The Yankees became the first team to 50 victories with a wild win on George Steinbrenner’s 80th birthday Sunday, although Jorge Posada left with a finger injury. The next step is getting A.J. Burnett back on track. He was 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA in June.
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2 Red Sox 49-35 –
So All-Star Adrian Beltre has broken 10 ribs — five apiece to teammates Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida — in outfield collisions. With hitting coach Dave Magadan’s help, Beltre is back to his old power swing mechanics and leads the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position and has the best OPS among AL third baseman.
3 Padres 49-34 –
The Padres are winning with pitching and timely hitting, a formula that works in their ballpark and a formula that should have resulted in Mat Latos’ making the All-Star team. Latos, 9-4 with a 2.62 ERA, has made five starts of at least seven shutout innings.
4 Braves 49-35 +2
Resurgent Billy Wagner is one of the five contenders for the final NL All-Star spot. Troy Glaus has missed two games after taking a shot of cortisone; his smooth conversion to first base has been a big reason for the Braves’ success.
5 Rangers 49-34 -1
The Rangers would have had a hard time making a better acquisition than catcher Bengie Molina, a consummate professional who caught Tim Lincecum’s two Cy Young Award seasons, won two Willie Mac awards as the Giants’ most inspirational player and averaged 18 homers and 85 RBIs in 2007-09.
6 Rays 50-33 +1
The Road Warriors have a major league-best 27 victories away from home after taking three of four from Minnesota, their third series victory in their past 12 since May 23. The other two came against Toronto.
7 Reds 48-37 +3
The Reds have used success against the Cubs to work their way to the top of the NL Central. The Reds have won seven of the 10 games between the two, with an nine-run seventh Friday and an eight-run seventh Sunday.
8 Angels 46-40 -1
Joel Pineiro won his sixth straight start on Sunday to help the Angels avoid a sweep at Angels Stadium, the 78th consecutive home series in which the Angels have not been swept. It is the longest since Atlanta avoided a sweep in 84 straight home series, broken by Arizona in 2006.
9 Dodgers 46-37 +7
The Dodgers have balanced a 4-11 interleague record by going 23-6 in the NL West, the best division in baseball. Rafael Furcal is 21 for 46 since missing a week following the death of his father.
10 Mets 47-37 -5
With five straight All-Star appearances, David Wright trails only Tom Seaver and Darryl Strawberry (seven apiece) in Mets’ history.
11 Cardinals 45-38 –
Adam Wainwright had a busy week — he reached on an bunt and scored as a pinch-hitter against Arizona on Monday, he was named to his first All-Star team on Sunday and he followed that with his ninth home victory and a three-run double in his fourth complete game.
12 Tigers 45-37 +1
Closer Jose Valverde became a two-league All-Star when he was named to the AL staff on Sunday after making it with Arizona in 2007. First halves do not get much better than Valverde’s this season — 18 saves, 0.51 ERA, 11 hits and 33 strikeouts in 35 innings through Sunday.
13 Twins 45-38 -5
The Twins have hit a skid, winning four of their past 13 entering a road trip to Toronto and Detroit. Twins starters are 13-18 with a 5.47 ERA on the road, 24-12 with a 3.43 ERA at their new home even after losing three of four to Tampa Bay.
14 Rockies 45-38 +4
Welcome back, Dexter Fowler. Shortly after returning from a tuneup at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Fowler went 10-for-16 with four triples, seven runs and seven walks in a four-game weekend series against San Francisco.
15 Phillies 43-39 -1
Without Chase Utley for two months and Placido Polanco for a month, the Phils must find a way to stay close in the NL East. Roy Halladay, Jamie Moyer, et al will be needed more than ever against Atlanta and Cincinnati before the All-Star break.
16 White Sox 44-38 +1
The AL Central looks like it could be fun the rest of the way. First-time All-Star Matt Thornton, he of the big arm, was scored upon only six times in 34 appearances and has three of his five saves in the past 10 days.
17 Giants 43-40 -5
The Giants had lost 10 of their past 12 after a weekend set in Colorado and had only one victory from a starting pitcher in that stretch, when Jonathan Sanchez stopped Boston on June 25.
18 Athletics 41-44 +1
Reprising Billy Ball, Daric Barton has 10 sacrifice bunts, the most by a major-league first baseman since Wally Joyner had 10 for the Angels in 1986. Trevor Cahill is a deserving All-Star.
19 Blue Jays 41-43 -4
The homer-happy Jays did not homer while being swept in a four-game series against Cleveland last week, and their offense has slowed. They scored 38 runs during their past four series with a 3-10 record.
20 Marlins 39-44 –
No-longer-interim boss Edwin Rodriguez received a hero’s welcome Sunday when the Marlins deplaned in San Juan as the first Puerto Rico-born manager in the major leagues. His mother, 75, surprised him at the team hotel, and a crowd of 150 or so greeted the plane.
21 Brewers 37-47 –
Three innings after Yovanni Gallardo learned of his first All-Star berth, he left a game in St. Louis with a side injury. It is not something the pitching-challenged Brewers need.
22 Nationals 37-47 –
Stephen Strasburg has pitched well enough to be an All-Star. He just hasn’t pitched long enough. Miguel Batista — seven strikeouts in three relief innings Sunday — still has one of the best (and undervalued) arms in baseball.
23 Royals 38-46 +1
Jose Guillen, in the last year of his three-year deal, may have talked his way onto the trading block by telling FOX Sports Kansas City this about his teammates: “Sometimes you just want to punch them.” David DeJesus is much closer to being moved.
24 Mariners 34-49 +1
Cliff Lee’s value keeps going up and up. Lee became the first major-leaguer since former teammate CC Sabathia to pitch three straight complete games when he beat the Yankees last week, and he was inning short of No. 4 in a Sunday victory. His five complete games are tied for the major-league lead … and, remember, he missed the first month.
25 Cubs 37-47 -2
Aramis Ramirez cannot get healthy, and that has a lot to do with the Cubs’ offensive problems. Ramirez missed the final two games of a weekend series after tweaking a left-thumb injury.
26 Diamondbacks 32-52 –
Jettisoning general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch could only be the beginning. Adam LaRoche’s contract expires after this season, although trading for him comes with a price — his $7.5 million option jumps to $9.5 million if he is dealt. Of course, if it is a rental you need …
27 Indians 33-50 +1
Carlos Santana, the prize in the deal that sent Casey Blake to the Dodgers two years ago, has had little trouble adjusting after his promotion to the majors. Santana’s first 17 games — .333, four home runs, 14 RBIs. Manny Ramirez’s first 17 — .180 batting average, two homers, five RBIs. Albert Belle — .274 batting average, three homers, 16 RBIs.
28 Astros 33-51 -1
Roy Oswalt continues to stand out, and the Astros continue to sort through trade offers for Oswalt and Lance Berkman.
29 Pirates 30-53 –
The Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to finish off a series victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, becoming the final team in the majors to have a victory when trailing by three runs, according to Elias.
30 Orioles 25-58 –
The Orioles finally got a home run from a first baseman in Game 77, although it was hit by handyman and All-Star Ty Wigginton, who plays both infield corners and second base. Garrett Atkins, acquired in the offseason to provide punch, had been designated for assignment by then.