June 27th, 2022
The Astros and Yankees’ four-game series over the weekend provided great theater, and gave us what might very well be a preview of more drama to come in October. The series had everything — two walk-off hits by Aaron Judge, an Astros combined no-hitter (the second time they’ve done this at Yankee Stadium) and a dominant start by 39-year-old Justin Verlander, who is well on his way to building yet another Cy Young case.
What the series didn’t do was impact either team’s division race. The Astros and Yankees both have built double-digit leads, and it would likely take an unprecedented collapse for anyone to catch them (especially in the AL West, where no other team is above .500).
To find more compelling division races, we turn our attention to the AL Central. The surprising Guardians are maintaining pace with the Twins, who have a two-game lead. The NL Central is a two-team battle between the first-place Brewers and the Cardinals, who are a game back. And the NL West, of course, never disappoints — the Padres are defying myriad injuries to hang with the Dodgers, who lead the Padres by two games after their Sunday night win over the Braves.
Biggest jump: The Red Sox jumped five spots, from 13 to 8. Boston has the longest active winning streak at seven games, and they’re in first place in the Wild Card standings, ahead of the Rays and Blue Jays by 1 1/2 games.
Biggest drop: The Cardinals dropped three, from 8 to 11. They have lost 11 of their past 20 games, but have barely lost any ground in the NL Central.
Power Rankings Top 5
1) Yankees (53-20; last week: 1)
DraftKings World Series odds: 4.5 to 1
The Yankees’ dramatic walk-off win on Judge’s three-run homer Sunday allowed them to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season, which is only three. There’s not much to quibble about when summing up the Yankees’ season so far, but given the speculation is already in full force about whether they can break baseball’s all-time wins record, any stumble gets attention. The Yankees, to put it mildly, did not have a good offensive weekend against the Astros, but they split the series and now get a little reprieve with the struggling A’s on deck for the next three games in the Bronx.
2) Astros (45-27; last week: 5)
DraftKings World Series odds: 5.5-1
In what is unquestionably their most challenging stretch — nine games against only the Mets and Yankees — Houston is so far 4-2. It’s been an eventful stretch so far, considering the Astros held the Yankees hitless for a stretch of 16 innings over the weekend. The New York trek continues Tuesday with two at Citi Field against the Mets. You can find any number of things working for the Astros these days, but in this space, let’s note the offense: Jose Altuve was on base 10 times during the Yankees series, and in his last eight games, he’s 9-for-29 (.310) with five extra-base hits, eight runs scored and six walks.
3) Mets (47-27; last week: 2)
DraftKings World Series odds: 7-1
The Mets dropped two to the Astros in Houston to start their week before taking two of three from the Marlins in Miami. The Mets’ lead in the NL East isn’t as large as it was a couple of weeks ago, but they’re doing their part in making sure they stay in first place: They’re 24-9 against teams in their division, winning 12 of their past 14. Only the Yankees (26-12) have more intradivision wins.
4) Dodgers (45-26; last week: 4)
DraftKings World Series odds: 4.5-1
Tony Gonsolin fell just short of becoming the third Dodgers starting pitcher in history to win his first 10 decisions of the season, but he had another strong outing Sunday night in Atlanta, holding the Braves to one run over 5 2/3 innings. Gonsolin’s 1.58 ERA is the best in the Majors among pitchers with at least 50 innings.
5) Padres (45-30; last week: 3)
DraftKings World Series odds: 13-1
The loss of Manny Machado had some of us wondering if the Padres were going to fall out of the top 5 sooner than later. But San Diego is piecing it together, and even with an 8-5 loss to the Phillies on Sunday, the Padres finished their homestand at 4-3. That ended a stretch of 31 games in 31 days with a respectable 17-14 mark.
The rest of the field of 30
6. Braves (6)
7. Blue Jays (7)
8. Red Sox (13)
9. Giants (9)
10. Guardians (14)
11. Cardinals (8)
12. Twins (10)
13. Rays (11)
14. Brewers (12)
15. Phillies (15)
16. Mariners (20)
17. Rangers (16)
18. White Sox (17)
19. Marlins (19)
20. Angels (18)
21. Orioles (22)
22. D-backs (21)
23. Rockies (23)
24. Pirates (25)
25. Tigers (26)
26. Cubs (24)
27. Reds (27)
28. Nationals (28)
29. Royals (30)
30. A’s (29)
Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Paul Casella, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Doug Gausepohl, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn, Brett Blueweiss.