Pirates and Orioles heading for woeful seasons (cont.)

Thursday July 1st, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
21Washington Nationals
Last Week: 21
The Nationals would enjoy Strasmas a whole lot more if they scored a few runs. In five starts spanning 31 2/3 innings in which he has a 2.27 ERA, Stephen Strasburg has received just 11 runs of support, which is why he's only 2-2. Four of those runs came in his debut, meaning he's had seven runs of backing in his last four outings.
22Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 23
In the strange, but true department is this nugget: Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo has hit as many home runs as reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer. Gallardo tied the Twins catcher on Tuesday with his third homer in just 37 at bats; he is the only pitcher in the majors with more than one this season. Gallardo has hit seven home runs in his career.
23Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 25
After throwing his third consecutive complete game on Tuesday night in a 7-4 win over the Yankees, Mariners starter Cliff Lee, the subject of persistent trade rumors, declined to speculate on where he'd end up by season's end and seemed indifferent to the whole process. "I'm a Mariner until they tell me something differently," Lee said. "I don't expect to be informed along the way." He added that, when the Indians dealt him to the Phillies last year, he first learned the news on a television news ticker.
24Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 24
Late last week, the Royals signed their first-round draft pick, Christian Colon, a shortstop from Cal State Fullerton whom they took with the fourth overall pick in last month's draft. That signing broke a streak of five straight years in which the club's top pick waited until the August deadline to ink a contract. The Royals recent top picks of years past have been playing well of late. Alex Gordon, the No. 2 pick in 2005, struggled in his first major-league stint but is hitting .333 at Triple-A. Starter Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in 2006, has a winning record in the majors. And two others -- first baseman Eric Hosmer (No. 3 overall in 2008) and third baseman Mike Moustakos (No. 2, 2007), will represent the Royals at the All-Star Futures Game on July 11. And last year's top pick, starter Aaron Crow (No. 12) has already advanced to Double A.
25Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 22
Carlos Zambrano is finding support in an unusual place. After throwing a dugout tantrum that led to his early departure from a start against the White Sox that got him suspended from the team, he had dinner with Ozzie Guillen (aka the opposing manager). But at least notable Cubs fan is still supporting Big Z: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch actually came to his defense saying, "We all love Zambrano. He's great for the Cubs. Every Cub fan has to be there through the thick and the thin."
26Houston Astros
Last Week: 26
Starter Wandy Rodriguez has gotten his groove back, winning his last two starts and allowing just one earned run in 13 innings after starting the year 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA. In his most recent victory, he helped himself at the plate too, laying down a suicide squeeze bunt for what proved to be the game's winning run.
27Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 27
Matt LaPorta, the first baseman and corner outfielder with the legendary home-run exploits from his high school and college careers, has assumed the starting first baseman job now that the Indians have traded Russell Branyan to the Mariners. LaPorta, the key player acquired from Milwaukee in the 2008 CC Sabathia trade, hasn't taken too kindly to major-league pitching yet, with a .243 average and .305 OBP in the first 91 games of his career. But he has started at first base in four straight games since his recall from the minors and in games three and four of the stretch, he parked solo home runs.
28Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 28
When a starter pitches well in spite of allowing a number of hits, it's common to say he "scattered" them. Is it possible to scatter eight walks? That's what Edwin Jackson did Friday night, throwing 149 pitches for a no-hitter despite allowing 10 baserunners, via eight walks, a hit by pitch and an error behind him. It has been one of the few bright spots in a disappointing season for the Diamondbacks.
29Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
The Orioles put together their first four-game winning streak of the season last week. In beating the Marlins on June 24 and then sweeping a three-game set with the Nationals, their Beltway rivals, the O's showed some uncharacteristic spunk by rallying for wins each day after trailing by at least three runs, and all three victories over the Nats were by one run.
30Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 29
If one were to follow the old motherly adage "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all," then conversations about the Pirates would be limited. Yet it's not out of the question that the Pirates could have multiple All-Stars. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen ought to be a no-brainer, while reliever Evan Meek could receive some consideration for his breakout year. Meek's 44 innings of relief are tied for fourth most in the majors, and he's pitched them with a sparkling 1.02 ERA and has held batters to a .179 average.
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