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California Power: Halos remain No. 1, Giants surge

Four of top six clubs from Golden State as races heat up with September's arrival

California Power: Halos remain No. 1, Giants surge play video for California Power: Halos remain No. 1, Giants surge

It's that time of year again.

The postseason begins next month and the mad dash down the stretch is officially underway. It's almost time to get the answers to the questions we've been asking all season.

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Do the streaking Angels, owners of the best record in baseball, have what it takes to return to the postseason for the first time since 2009? Or do the baseball gods have other plans for the final weeks of the regular season?

Will this be the year the Nationals finish strong and finally win it all? And just how good are the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates?

Is it time for the Royals to return to the postseason?

Here's what we know: Baseball is a glorious and unpredictable sport, friends, and anything can happen during the final month of the season. Sometimes, things don't always turn out as planned. Sometimes, things turn out a lot better. Just ask Nelson Cruz and the Baltimore Orioles

The question remains: Is your team powerful enough to make the postseason cut?

For the fourth consecutive season, MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. The group includes MLB.com vice president and executive editor Carlton Thompson, executive editor Matthew Leach, columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Tracy Ringolsby, Phil Rogers and Lyle Spencer along with reporters Alyson Footer and Jesse Sanchez.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Have your opinion counted by submitting your Power Rankings.

1. Angels: The hottest team in baseball is riding a six-game winning streak and coming off of a four-game series sweep of the A's over the weekend. Erick Aybar is also on a roll, riding a 16-game hitting streak. The veteran shortstop is batting .458 (27-for-59) during that span.

2. Athletics: Oakland manager Bob Melvin called his club's performance against the Angels over the weekend "embarrassing" and the team responded with a 6-1 victory against the Mariners on Monday to start the week off on the right foot. Could Adam Dunn's home run on his very first swing with the A's help the team find its mojo? The A's sure hope so.

3. Orioles: The O's lead the second-place Yankees by 8 1/2 games in the American League East standings, but they might be without one of their key players. J.J. Hardy left before the eighth inning of the O's loss to Minnesota on Monday with lower back spasms -- the same injury that kept him out for five games in April. He is considered day to day.

4. Nationals: The Nats have hit 14 home runs in the last four games, and the recent power surge is only part of the reason they lead the National League East by seven games. Asdrubal Cabrera has been a wizard on defense and a healthy Bryce Harper is once again a threat at the plate.

5. Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw is making a run at another NL Cy Young Award and he's making case to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award as well. The Dodgers, who lead the Giants in the NL West standings by two games, have dropped a slumping Yasiel Puig to sixth in the batting order. He has three hits in his last 34 at-bats.

6. Giants: San Francisco is still in great shape, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. The Giants are two games back of the Dodgers in the NL West standings and 1 1/2 games ahead in the race for the first NL Wild Card spot. Yusmeiro Petit, who retired 46 straight batters to set a Major League record, has replaced the slumping Tim Lincecum in the starting rotation.

7. Tigers: Detroit is hoping to ride Miguel Cabrera's bat and his sore right ankle to the postseason. The Tigers are 1 1/2 games ahead of Seattle for the second AL Wild Card spot and a half-game behind Kansas City in the AL Central standings. Cabrera had four hits, including two home runs, and drove in three runs Monday.

8. Mariners: Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon gave all his starters extra rest last week prior to this month's stretch run, and he hopes the strategy pays off. What's certain is that the Mariners have lost five of the past seven games and have dropped 1 1/2 games back of the Tigers in the chase for the AL's second Wild Card berth.

9. Royals: Kansas City maintained a half-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central standings with a victory against Texas on Monday, and the Royals have been relying heavily on the back end of the bullpen. They also added more firepower in the lineup when they recalled Eric Hosmer from his injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Omaha on Monday. Hosmer went 1-for-4 in his first game back.

10. Cardinals: The Cards stand alone atop the NL Central for the first time all season and hold a one-game lead over the second-place Brewers. How long can they keep the top spot? The teams will play four games in Milwaukee after the Cardinals' current series with the Pirates.

11. Brewers: Milwaukee had at least a share of first place in the NL Central every day since April 5 until falling one game behind the Cardinals on Monday. Here's something else to consider: Carlos Gomez was out of the Brewers' lineup on Monday after he left Sunday's game against the Giants with a left wrist injury. X-rays of Gomez's wrist were negative but he will likely have an MRI.

12. Braves: How well has Jason Heyward played lately? The outfielder has reached base safely via a hit or a walk in 84 of his past 98 games. Atlanta now sits 1 1/2 games out of the NL Wild Card after being no-hit by Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia bullpen on Monday.

13. Indians: The Tribe faces a stretch of 23 games in 23 days and is feeling confident despite Monday's loss to Detroit that snapped a three-game winning streak. The Indians are four games behind the Tigers, who hold the second AL Wild Card spot, but there are high hopes in Cleveland.

14. Pirates: It's time for a strong finish in Pittsburgh. Monday's loss dropped the Bucs three games out of the NL Central lead behind the Cardinals. The Pirates are two games out of an NL Wild Card spot and hoping to heat up in the final weeks of the season.

15. Yankees: The Yanks lost two out of three in Toronto, and their margin for error continues to shrink. New York is four games back of Detroit and also behind Cleveland and Seattle in the race for the second AL Wild Card. The good news? Jacoby Ellsbury could be back in the Yankees' lineup Tuesday.

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