Power Rankings: Prepping for stretch drive

Power Rankings: Prepping for stretch drive

Weekly rankings are as much about long-term prognostications as they are about tracking the progress of a team week to week. And this week's MLB Power Rankings largely reflect how a lot of teams fared at the non-waiver Trade Deadline and how that may set them up for the stretch drive.

The top five teams, for example, all have one thing in common: They seemingly did a lot to improve before the Trade Deadline passed last Friday. Still more in the top 10 -- the Giants and the Mets, for example -- also acquired strong reinforcements. This sets us up for what is looking to be a wild finish with several hotly contested division races likely to go down to the wire.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

NL East set up for thrilling two-team race

Mets made key moves to contend, but will Nationals' talent prevail?

NL East set up for thrilling two-team race

And the race is on.

By completing a sweep of the Nationals on Sunday night at Citi Field, the Mets moved into a virtual tie for first place in the National League East. The fan base has been energized not only by finding its team in contention going into August but also by the acquisition of a much-needed bat, Yoenis Cespedes, from the Tigers.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Today's starting lineups: Aug. 3

Below are today's starting lineups that have been made public by Major League Baseball's clubs.

A lineup is not official until it is handed to the umpire.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

After sweep, Mets have touch of swagger

After sweep, Mets have touch of swagger

Mets fans had waited a long time for a moment like this. And so on Sunday night they did it up right. They had their ballpark rocking with emotion and craziness. They brought back the thunderous cheers that were once the norm for this franchise. At various times they simply stood and screamed, almost all 35,374 of them. At least it sounded that way. Remember when it was always like this around the Mets?

Wait. Make that the first-place Mets.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tensions flare as Jays win series with KC

Tensions flare as Jays win series with KC

TORONTO -- The first three games of a pivotal series between the Blue Jays and the American League-leading Royals had a playoff-like atmosphere. Sunday's finale, however, turned decidedly more intense.

Chin music was played, batters were hit and benches cleared in Toronto's 5-2 win at Rogers Centre that culminated with three ejections -- including Blue Jays manager John Gibbons -- and a heated exchange of words following the game.

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Dan Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Severino's rise lifted by great expectations

Severino's rise lifted by great expectations

The Yankees believe that Luis Severino is the type of talent that will not be affected by the big moments, and by sending the right-hander out for his big league debut Wednesday against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, they will quickly find out if that is the case.

Severino, the Yankees' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has checked all the necessary boxes at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he was 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 11 starts. That sterling line came as no surprise to pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who saw the 21-year-old's competitive side emerge during Spring Training.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Posey plays dodgeball, pegs Martin on pickoff

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Posey plays dodgeball, pegs Martin on pickoff

In the fifth inning of Sunday's Giants-Rangers game, Buster Posey noticed that Leonys Martin had taken quite the lead off second base. So he did what any good catcher would -- he started a game of dodgeball on the diamond.

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Tying game: Mets deliver Citi's slickest sweep

Tying game: Mets deliver Citi's slickest sweep

NEW YORK -- The Mets' first three-homer inning since 2007 sent Citi Field into possibly the biggest ruckus in its history, shooting New York into a virtual tie for first place with a 5-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep. Back-to-back third-inning homers from Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy sparked an electric atmosphere at the Queens ballpark, where the fans have thirsted for a playoff team since its inception in 2009. The crowd of 35,374 sure felt it finally had the makings of one after Lucas Duda followed Murphy two batters later with his ninth homer in eight games -- a two-run shot that punctuated a season-defining homestand and gave winning pitcher Noah Syndergaard insurance runs to work with.

"We're excited," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We know we have 50-something [games] to go and have to play those guys six more times, but this is a huge weekend for us. In the scope of things, this was a great homestand for the way we finished it."

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Week Ahead: Familiar faces in new places

Week Ahead: Familiar faces in new places

The Blue Jays will see if David was obtained for the right Price. The Astros will look to Mike to keep their postseason Fiers burning brightly. The Dodgers will hand the ball to Alex and try to keep putting the Wood to the Giants.

And so goes the Week Ahead, which is not only full of questionable puns but of thrilling pennant-race baseball, which is beginning to kick into serious overdrive now that last week's non-waiver Trade Deadline is behind us and October keeps getting closer.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

More than 125 cities part of Play Ball Month

Baseball- or softball-related activities to be held throughout August

More than 125 cities part of Play Ball Month

From Tacoma to Tallahassee, from Las Cruces to Lexington, from Clarksville to Cupertino, from Macon to Milwaukee, the sport of baseball rises again across America.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, in conjunction with Minor League Baseball and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), expanded the new grassroots initiative for youth by announcing on Monday a list of more than 125 cities that are being designated 2015 Play Ball Cities for Play Ball Month.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez loving 'Club Astros' environment

Center fielder delivers decisive hit, feels he's fitting right in

Gomez loving 'Club Astros' environment

HOUSTON -- Walking in to any new environment is daunting. For the uninitiated, walking into the Astros' clubhouse after a win, though, it can get a bit more cumbersome.

Created by George Springer, fog envelops a darkened room as strobe lights flash to the beat of techno music in "Club Astros" after each victory, and it was no different after Sunday's 4-1 win over the D-backs.

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Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Tucker, Valbuena could excel in Arlington

Tucker, Valbuena could excel in Arlington

Welcome to DraftKings fantasy baseball, the Official Daily Fantasy Game of Major League Baseball.

The players listed below could provide difference-making stats for DraftKings participants on Monday.

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Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ethier's second HR is walk-off for LA sweep

Ethier's second HR is walk-off for LA sweep

LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give the Dodgers a 5-3 victory over the Angels and their fourth straight win on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. The Halos wrapped up a 1-8 road trip.

Ethier also homered in the eighth inning to put the Dodgers up, 3-2, only for the Angels to tie the game in the ninth on Chris Iannetta's RBI double. When Ethier's spot in the order came around again in the 10th, the veteran yanked a 1-1 changeup into the right-field bullpen to give the Dodgers a Freeway Series sweep.

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David Adler and Steve Bourbon are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals walk off on Moss' pinch-hit single

New acquisition's pinch-hit single lifts Cards over Rockies on Sunday

Cardinals walk off on Moss' pinch-hit single

ST. LOUIS -- When Brandon Moss came to the plate as a pinch-hitter with one out in the ninth and runners on first and third in a tie game, he knew it would be difficult to lift a ball to the outfield for a sacrifice fly against Rockies reliever Scott Oberg.

After seeing three fastballs from the hard-throwing righty, the left-handed-hitting Moss also decided that pulling the ball would be a challenge, so he took advantage of one of the few remaining options.

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David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

REAL fake umps make triumphant return at Mets game

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REAL fake umps make triumphant return at Mets game

When we talk about fake umpires, we're usually talking about the dancing variety. Or the kind that are really just fans yelling passionately about their own interpretation of what it means to commit on a check swing. But on Sunday night at Citi Field, there was a different -- perhaps better -- pair of fake umpires.

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MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

Stats of the Day: HR parade gives Mets sweep

Flores, Duda, Granderson, Murphy lead march against Nationals

Stats of the Day: HR parade gives Mets sweep

Here are five interesting items from around the big leagues this weekend …

• On Friday, Wilmer Flores delivered a game-ending solo home run in the 12th inning to give the Mets a 2-1 win over the Nationals. On Saturday, Lucas Duda homered twice as New York defeated Washington, 3-2. On Sunday, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Duda homered in the third inning, and the Mets defeated the Nats, 5-2. Duda's homer gave him nine in his past eight games. His nine second-half homers are the most in the Majors. The Mets' record for the most home runs after the All-Star break is 21 -- a number reached by Dave Kingman (1975), Gary Carter ('85), Darryl Strawberry ('85), Mike Piazza ('99) and Carlos Delgado (2008). With the sweep, New York improved to 38-18 (.679) at Citi Field. The 1988 Mets own the franchise's best home winning percentage, at .700.

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Roger Schlueter is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB News Quiz: Prove your knowledge

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MLB News Quiz: Prove your knowledge

Did everyone have fun during the trade deadline? Was everyone paying attention to all of the trades? We hope you remembered that was actual baseball being played as well -- because even if Cole Hamels found a new home, the Mets found their big bat and the Blue Jays found ... everyone, the past week's slate of games did not disappoint. There were walkoffs and emotions and, as always, plenty of dingers (even from NFL star J.J. Watt). 

Were you following along with all of it?

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Cubs win 5th in a row, tied for Wild Card

Cubs win 5th in a row, tied for Wild Card

MILWAUKEE -- Addison Russell smacked a solo home run to back Clayton Richard, who helped himself by hitting an RBI double, leading the Cubs to a 4-3 victory Sunday over the Brewers to complete a four-game sweep.

With the win, the Cubs now are 10 games over .500 (57-47).

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Benches empty after Phillips gets hit by Watson

Benches empty after Phillips gets hit by Watson

CINCINNATI -- Tempers are never far below the surface when the Pirates, the Reds and the National League Central rivals' mutual philosophies of pitching inside clash. Those emotions boiled above the surface in the eighth inning of Sunday's game with the Reds.

Left-handed reliever Tony Watson's first pitch to Brandon Phillips hit the Reds' second baseman on the upper left arm. Maybe it was retaliation for Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen being plunked by Pedro Villarreal in the top of the eighth. Maybe it wasn't. For sure, however, it led to three separate on-field incidents that slowed down the Bucs' 3-0 victory, and drew ejections for Sean Rodriguez and Mark Melancon of the Pirates and Marlon Byrd and Joey Votto of the Reds.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Enjoy many benefits of MLB.TV at lower price

Yearly subscription now $49.99 for Premium, or $39.99, as players change teams, races heat up

David Price and Troy Tulowitzki (Blue Jays), Mike Leake (Giants), Jonathan Papelbon (Nationals), Carlos Gomez and Scott Kazmir (Astros), Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist (Royals), Jose Reyes (Rockies), Brandon Moss (Cardinals), Alex Wood (Dodgers), Shane Victorino (Angels), Tyler Clippard (Mets), Joakim Soria (Pirates) and Aramis Ramirez (Pirates), and Cole Hamels (Rangers).

Those are some of your newest reasons to sign up now for MLB.TV, and here's another one: Major League Baseball Advanced Media just lowered the yearly subscription price to $49.99 for MLB.TV Premium and $39.99 for MLB.TV.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dog tries interview at Marlins Park, mostly growls

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Dog tries interview at Marlins Park, mostly growls

Bark in the Park Nights happen at most stadiums throughout the league. Even though it's a night themed around the pups, they never really get a chance to talk about how they're feeling. What do they think about defensive shifts? Do they think a hot dog is a sandwich? Is that an awkward question for them? 

But finally, during Sunday's Padres-Marlins game, one of our canine friends was given a platform to tell us what was on her mind. Unfortunately, all she could muster were a few growls.

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Bryant exits with dizziness, feeling 'better'

Cubs third baseman shaken up after headfirst slide into second

Bryant exits with dizziness, feeling 'better'

MILWAUKEE -- Cubs rookie Kris Bryant was removed in the fifth inning of Sunday's 4-3 win over the Brewers as a precautionary measure because he felt a little dizzy after a hard slide into second base in the fifth inning. He was to be re-examined on Monday in Pittsburgh, where the Cubs open a three-game series.

"He got banged a little bit on the slide, popped him in the head a little bit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's a little bit dizzy at the moment. We believe he's fine. I think he's going to be fine actually."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Post-Deadline, Jays swooping in on Wild Card race

Post-Deadline, Jays swooping in on Wild Card race

CHICAGO -- Oh, well. Hanging onto Jeff Samardzija at the non-waiver Trade Deadline seemed like a good idea at the time.

Maybe not so much by mid-afternoon on Sunday, when the Yankees were pounding the Shark for nine runs en route to a 12-3 victory to win the series. It was a step in the wrong direction for the White Sox, in what has been a wide-open Wild Card race, lacking definition.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cespedes plays CF in 2nd game for Mets

Mets manager Collins likes the versatility he has with all his outfielders

Cespedes plays CF in 2nd game for Mets

NEW YORK -- At this point in his career, Curtis Granderson doesn't care where in the outfield he plays. He's just making sure to check the lineup before jogging out to his habitual spot in right field.

It's no longer a given that Granderson will have a "9" penciled beside his name on every lineup card. The Mets' trades for outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Kelly Johnson have led manager Terry Collins to consider fiddling with his outfield combinations to create better day-to-day matchups.

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Alden Woods is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett awaits fate on ailing elbow

Veteran righty on 15-day DL, says he wouldn't get surgery

Burnett awaits fate on ailing elbow

CINCINNATI -- A.J. Burnett returned to Pittsburgh for his final season because he wanted to write a triumphant ending to a 17-year career. He may have unwittingly written a legendary exit.

Placed on the disabled list following a Thursday night outing when the pain in his right elbow became "a little more than I expected, and more than I could tolerate," Burnett has an appointment with Pirates team doctors on Monday in Pittsburgh. He expects the diagnosis to be one of two things.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yankees in total control in Chicago finale

Yankees in total control in Chicago finale

CHICAGO -- Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira homered and Ivan Nova allowed one run over six innings as the Yankees defeated the White Sox, 12-3, on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. New York outscored the White Sox, 27-17, in the three-game series, taking two of three.

Ellsbury led off with a home run on the second pitch of the game before the Yankees blew the game open with a five-run fourth and a three-run fifth. Stephen Drew supplied four RBIs, while Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Ellsbury each added two RBIs. White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija threw fewer than five innings for the first time this season, giving up nine runs over 4 2/3.

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Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gray to make MLB debut on Tuesday

Gray to make MLB debut on Tuesday

ST. LOUIS -- Right-hander Jon Gray, the Rockies' top pick in the 2013 Draft and their top-ranked pitching prospect and No. 2 prospect overall, according to MLB.com, will make his Major League debut on Tuesday night against the Mariners at Coors Field, a source told MLB.com on Sunday night.

Gray, 23, chosen third overall out of Oklahoma, has gone 6-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 games, including 21 starts, at Triple-A Albuquerque. He started slowly, but since May 2 he is 6-3 with a 3.17 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 33 walks over 17 outings.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Volquez miffed by Donaldson's angry actions

Volquez miffed by Donaldson's angry actions

TORONTO -- With the Blue Jays banging home runs all weekend, the Royals' plan of attack in Sunday's 5-2 loss was to pitch more inside, which is exactly what right-hander Edinson Volquez did.

Volquez's pitch to Josh Donaldson in the first inning got too far inside and hit him. Both benches were warned, and that was just a prelude to a day full of tension, especially between Volquez and Donaldson.

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Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Welcome, Mat: Latos shines in Dodgers debut

Welcome, Mat: Latos shines in Dodgers debut

LOS ANGELES -- It didn't take much for Mat Latos to surpass his last debut after being traded.

On April 7, his first outing with the Miami Marlins after being traded in the offseason, Latos allowed seven runs in two-thirds of an inning. Latos was much better in his first start with the Dodgers, allowing one run on four hits over six innings in a 5-3 win over the Angels on Sunday.

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Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Traded players already making an impact

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Traded players already making an impact

The beginning of August means a lot of things: the afternoons are hot, back-to-school shopping sales are just around the bend, you might be able to find a pumpkin ale on tap, already, and MLB teams are gearing up for a postseason push. 

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