As of the middle of the week, they led their league in ERA, had won three consecutive series and, lest we conclude this was all about one guy, averaged more than six runs per game in them.
Zack Greinke's(notes) out in front of it, but the Kansas City Royals are pitching the late innings also (the ones Greinke leaves for them), and they're playing reasonable defense, getting a nice offensive bump from Alberto Callaspo(notes) and taking some walks.
So, welcome Trey Hillman and the boys to the top 10. They look to be getting the hang of this hardball thing, and their schedule stays reasonable for weeks; they might stay a while.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (21-10; Previous: 2) – Sign of the Times: Dodgers shutter Mannywood.
2. Toronto Blue Jays (20-12; Previous: 3) – Ricciardi says it would take "a boatload" to acquire Halladay, maybe should talk to Pirates and Mariners first.
3. Boston Red Sox (19-11; Previous: 1) – Red Sox take ownership of Yankees, but pass on that money pit Steinbrenner's club plays in.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (19-11; Previous: 4) – Pujols is NL player of the month, league gives him May and June awards as well, just to save itself the trips.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (15-12; Previous: 7) – Phils' starters have the worst ERA and pitched the second fewest innings (Oakland) in baseball. Their opponents' batting average (.324) would rank 14th among the NL's batting leaders (tied with Brad Hawpe(notes)) and challenge Pujols for player of the month.
6. Chicago Cubs (16-13; Previous: 5) – Cubs are playing 20 games in 20 days, which wouldn't be so bad except it gets so tiresome with Piniella constantly clapping his hands and reminding everyone it's a brand new century.
7. Kansas City Royals (18-12; Previous: 14) – Greinke ERA (0.40) third-best ever for 6-0 pitcher, behind Fernando Valenzuela (0.33) and Walter Johnson (0.35). Sidney Ponson(notes) ERA (5.91), on other hand, about right for 1-4 pitcher.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (14-17; Previous: 9) – Carl Crawford(notes) steals six bases against Red Sox, also, turns out, makes off with Jason Varitek's(notes) wallet and watch, Brad Penny's(notes) DVD player.
9. Florida Marlins (16-14; Previous: 6) – Marlins are 4-12 since their 11-1 start, haven't had a starter win in going on three weeks. Regis Philbin searching frantically for bandwagon emergency exit.
11. New York Mets (15-13; Previous: 12) – Omar Minaya discovers areas in which he suspects maybe club lacks "edge." One more September collapse and he'll be absolutely sure of it.
15. Minnesota Twins (14-16; Previous: 11) – Eight of Twins' losses by five or more runs. On bright side, team keeping fans fresh for stretch run.
16. Chicago White Sox (13-15; Previous: 13) – Sox lose four in a row, Ozzie threatens changes, unattended sheep devoured by wolf, townsfolk sad.
18. Cincinnati Reds (16-13; Previous: 24) – Reds pitchers throw four shutouts in six games and six in a month. The fact that three are against the Pirates so far has not diminished enthusiasm.
19. San Francisco Giants (15-13; Previous: 26) – Big Unit, to the San Francisco Chronicle, told he's manning Bonds' former locker: "Really? The hitting sure isn't rubbing off." Johnson ought to make it to 300 wins (he has 297) before he strikes out 300 times (284), though it could be close.
22. Oakland Athletics (11-16; Previous: 18) – In a little more than two seasons A's have used DL 50 times, which seems like a lot, especially considering Nomar just got there.
23. Cleveland Indians (11-19; Previous: 19) – Records vs. Red Sox: Yankees, 0-5; Pavano, 1-0. How did we get here?
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-17; Previous: 23) – Matt Capps(notes) feels elbow pain while taking off shirt, club announces he'll now close games wearing a fitted J. Crew Oxford, sleeves rolled to forearms.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (12-18; Previous: 21) – And one more thing about D’backs' offense: Max Scherzer(notes) in 12 career starts – 3.39 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 25 walks in 63 2/3 innings. His record: 0-7.
26. San Diego Padres (13-17; Previous: 20) – Before apology, Heath Bell(notes) says Huston Street(notes) isn't crazy enough to be a closer, Kyle Farnsworth(notes) is too scared to be a closer, will get to other 27 closers as soon as he's finished reading his Delivery Man of the Month plaque.
27. Houston Astros (12-17; Previous: 27) – Game against Nats on Tuesday night tied after 11, called on account of boredom.
28. Colorado Rockies (11-17; Previous: 28) – Clint Hurdle has Street work on craziness in bullpen sessions, returns him to ninth-inning role.
29. Baltimore Orioles (12-18; Previous: 29) – Dave Trembley decides against closer by committee, goes with closer by posse because it sounds more gangsta.
30. Washington Nationals (9-18; Previous: 30) – Strangely, "Strasburg" pops up among probables for late-June series against Orioles.