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Yankees hold top spot, but there's still much to play for (cont.)

MLB Power Rankings
21Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 20
The Blue Jays are officially in play-out-the-string mode. Rookie Marc Rzepczynski has already made his last start of the season, having been shut down to help protect his arm and get him ready for next season. They're auditioning in-house options at closer again -- this time it's Jason Frasor who will get a chance to take over the ninth-inning role -- and they finished August with just 12 position players. Winter has come early to Canada this year.
 
22San Diego Padres
Last Week: 27
Here's another reason why baseball is awesome: The Padres are almost 20 games under .500 and more than 20 games out of first and they'll be playing almost as much important baseball the rest of the season as the Yankees. Seventeen of their last 27 games come against NL West rivals Colorado, San Francisco and Los Angeles, including all of their next nine. They've been playing surprisingly well of late, having won six of their past eight series, including tilts with the Braves and Padres. In fact, their only bumps in that time have come against the scorching hot Cardinals.
 
23Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 22
Lefty Dallas Braden is likely out for the season with a foot injury that manager Bob Geren described as "traumatized." That pretty much sums up the A's entire year to this point. Five months into the season, and the A's have had a losing record in each of them. This week they decided to go with a six-man rotation. A good way to preserve their pitchers' arms, or a good way to preserve their ERAs? Maybe both.
 
24Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 23
Here's the scouting report on Jhonny Peralta. Good field, good bat, can't swim. Peralta quickly abandoned ship when the Indians' dugout started flooding on Saturday night during the Tribe's game in Baltimore, but getting Peralta to safety wasn't the only problem. The rising tide affected Indians manager Eric Wedge, too. "I had to go to the bathroom," he said. The flood didn't stop in Baltimore, though. The Indians went to Detroit and watched Carlos Carrasco, one of the key pieces in the Cliff Lee trade, get roughed up in his major league debut. Another big part of that trade, lefty Jason Knapp, is having an MRI on his sore shoulder. Then comes word that Grady Sizemore may be shut down for the season in favor of elbow surgery.
 
25New York Mets
Last Week: 24
David Wright: All-Star, franchise cornerstone, man of flight and now, trend-setter. Wright returned from his beaning wearing the much-discussed S100 batting helmet from Rawlings that is billed as being able to withstand a 100 mph fastball, which isn't much faster than what Wright got hit in the head with by the Giants' Matt Cain a few weeks ago. The helmets are going to be mandatory in the minor leagues next season, but Wright is the fist prominent big leaguer to start wearing one. He took a fair amount of heckling from both teammates and opponents for looking like Dark Helmet, but he acknowledged it's going to be safety first from here on out. With that in mind, you have to wonder why the Mets allowed Wright to return at all. Getting him comfortable again facing big league pitching is good, but even if it's not his head, risking another injury this year is simply not worth it.
 
26Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 26
Forget for a moment that they struck out 20 times in a single game against the Dodgers on Sunday, or that their recent four-game sweep of the Pirates deserves an asterisk because the Pirates are practically the JV team of major league baseball at this point. The real cause for concern this week is that Brandon Phillips needs to learn what "fractured" and "broken" mean. Phillips told reporters that he had been playing with a fractured wrist, but came back the next day and said, "My wrist is not broken. So I didn't mean to say broken. I know I didn't say broken. I said fractured. I didn't know fractured and broken were the same thing. My wrist, it feels like it's fractured. The last time I took an X-ray, they said there is nothing broken. But it feels like it's broken. My wrist really does bother me." We believe you, Brandon.
 
27Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
They get to move up not so much because of how good they were but how completely awful the Pirates and Nationals were in the past week. A special shout-out to a friend of mine who has been convinced for years that Harold Baines would go to the Hall of Fame: hope you enjoyed this moment as much as Baines did. Because with all due respect to a guy with 2,866 hits, that is the only Hall of Fame Harold Baines is getting into anytime soon. By the way, perhaps the single most incredible stat of the year: Cla Meredith finally pitched in a game his team won this week, the first time that had happened in his last 34 outings. The last game he pitched in for the winning team, Meredith wasn't even with the Orioles, but the Padres, way back on May 25.
 
28Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 30
How good has Zack Greinke been lately? Good enough to toss a 15-strikeout game in one outing and a one-hitter in the next. Good enough to take the clear AL Cy Young lead into the final month of the season. And good enough, by himself, to bump the Royals up a spot. Of course, the rest of the team did their best to negate the increase, making (or not making as the case may be) some dreadful plays like this and this, which pretty much sums up their season. Between that and the very poorly received contract extension for general manager Dayton Moore, however many fans were left for the Royals this season may be done for the year, but at least they managed to win a couple games this week, which is more than the teams below them can say, and reason enough to move them out of the cellar.
 
29Washington Nationals
Last Week: 28
Nyjer Morgan has a broken hand and is out for the year, Stephen Strasburg is doing PFP drills at their minor league complex and the Nats have resumed their bumbling ways of earlier in the season. But there are still a few storylines left: Will anyone notice that Mike MacDougal is having arguably the best season of his career and start calling him "Mac the Ninth" again? Will Ryan Zimmerman finish at .300 for the first time in his career? And will Adam Dunn reach 40 home runs again? Or better yet, will Adam Dunn finish with exactly 40 home runs once again, a total he has posted in an amazing four consecutive seasons.
 
30Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 25
What do you do for a promotion when you get to September and you're about to establish a new American professional sports record for losing seasons and your roster is as anonymous as the local beer league softball squad? You put out a promotion of an 80-year-old legend of another sport, naturally. The Pirates are hoping that an Arnold Palmer bobblehead will do what the team's dreadful play of late cannot, which is to draw a few thousand more fans to the ballpark. A winless seven-game road trip like the one they just endured against fellow mediocrities Milwaukee and Cincinnati certainly isn't going to do the trick.
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