MLB power rankings: AL East rival ready to battle Rays for top spot

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The Tampa Bay Rays’ rampage is over. Reality will finally settle over the American League East, and it’s going to be a wild ride.

A 13-0 start didn’t convince anyone Tampa Bay would run and hide with the division, but it could have been far more significant had its division rivals scuffled out of the gate. Yet as the Rays rightfully stole the headlines until their first loss (and even a two-game losing streak), the division’s longtime bully was doing more than enough to keep up.

The New York Yankees won or split their first five series for the first time since 2010, and at 10-6 are tied with Toronto, four games behind Tampa Bay. No, the Rays probably are not going wire-to-wire, not in baseball’s only division where all five teams are .500 or better.

East teams are 37-15 against clubs from other divisions.

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Sunday, Gerrit Cole tossed his fourth career shutout and struck out 10, equaling Ron Guidry with 23 double-digit strikeout games, most in Yankees history. His next start: Toronto, at Yankee Stadium, as the divisional intramurals continue heating up.

This week’s rankings (Last week):

1. Tampa Bay Rays (-)

Emerging ace Jeffrey Springs expected to miss two months with elbow issue.

2. New York Yankees (-)

Anthony Volpe batting just .191, but has swiped seven bases, including three-steal game out of leadoff spot.

3. Atlanta Braves (-)

Squad coming together during six-game win streak: Vaughn Grissom notches game-winning hit, Max Fried returns from hamstring injury Monday.

4. Minnesota Twins (+1)

Not unlike Miami, Pablo Lopez has 1.73 ERA, one win in four starts.

5. Milwaukee Brewers (+3)

6-4 road record best indicator in this hot start.

6. San Diego Padres (-2)

Star-studded lineup producing .720 OPS, just 18th in majors.

7. Toronto Blue Jays (+5)

Deal Rays their first two losses, but Alek Manoah (6.98 ERA) searching for answers.

8. New York Mets (-)

Pete Alonso leads the majors with eight home runs.

9. Houston Astros (-2)

A sight they hope to see often: Hunter Brown dominating Texas over seven innings.

10. Cleveland Guardians (-1)

Needing some arms reinforcements after Triston McKenzie, Aaron Civale hit IL.

11. Los Angeles Dodgers (-5)

Lost five of last eight, including Cubs series to old friend Cody Bellinger.

12. Baltimore Orioles (+1)

Starters rank 23rd in innings pitched, making every game a bullpen puzzle.

13. Seattle Mariners (-3)

Luis Castillo’s 0.61 WHIP leads active pitchers.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks (+1)

Potentially telling seven-game stretch at Cardinals, vs. Padres.

15. Philadelphia Phillies (-1)

Have given up at least eight runs in five of 16 games.

16. Boston Red Sox (+2)

Worth it: Rafael Devers slams seven quick homers.

17. St. Louis Cardinals (-1)

Lars Nootbar hits key homer in return. Now they go?

18. Chicago Cubs (+2)

Ian Happ’s $61 million extension ensures at least half the everyday lineup could return next year.

19. Texas Rangers (-)

Corey Seager’s .359/.469/.538 line heads to IL with left hamstring strain.

20. Miami Marlins (+4)

Jean Segura still seeking first extra-base hit amid .185 (10 for 54) start.

21. Los Angeles Angels (-4)

Shortstop Zach Neto, picked 13th overall, is first in 2022 draft class to reach majors. Will he have staying power?

22. Pittsburgh Pirates (-)

Just a walk-off loss from taking three of four in St. Louis.

23. San Francisco Giants (-2)

Lose two in Detroit, then face indignity of return trip to make up Sunday’s rainout.

24. Chicago White Sox (-1)

Dylan Cease pitching OK, but walk rate up 27%.

25. Cincinnati Reds (+3)

Jonathan India out quickly with .424 OBP, .933 OPS.

26. Detroit Tigers (-1)

Verdict on Javy Baez’s tenure so far? Thumbs down.

27. Colorado Rockies (-1)

Your 3-4-5 in the rotation: Austin Gomber (8.16 ERA), Ryan Feltner (8.78) and Jose Ureña (9.90).

28. Kansas City Royals (-1)

Matt Duffy has an .864 OPS without drawing a single walk.

29. Washington Nationals (+1)

Random prediction: Reliever Mason Thompson will be club’s All-Star.

30. Oakland Athletics (-1)

Lost on a walk-off, lost in extra innings, lost while giving up 17 walks. At 3-13, still mixing it up.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY