1. Boston Red Sox (60-40, previous No. 1) – The Red Sox hold on to the top spot after taking two-of-three from the Yankees over the weekend, including a dramatic walk-off win on Sunday Night Baseball. Their pitching has been outstanding of late as Red Sox starters have allowed two runs or less in 12 of their last 17 games. They improved to 33-17 at home, which is the second-best mark in the AL. The Sox will continue their seven-game homestand with a pivotal series with the second place and surging Rays beginning Monday.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (59-37, previous No. 2) – St. Louis has now won seven of its last 10 and has built a two game lead over the Pirates for first place in the NL Central. One of the more impressive things for the Cards this year has been their play on the road as they are a league-leading 30-20 in games played away from home. They will look to continue this trend as 11 of their next 14 games are on the road.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (58-41, previous No. 5) – There is no doubt the Rays are the hottest team in all of baseball as they have won 17 of their last 19 games and are closing in on the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. They are getting it done in close games as six of their last eight games have been one-run affairs. They will travel to Boston for four-game set on Monday where the Rays could very well take over first place.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (57-39, previously No. 3) – Despite losing two-of-three to the Reds in Cincinnati this past weekend, the Pirates still find themselves in second place in the NL Central, trailing the Cardinals by two games. Their offense held them back as they scored only nine runs in the three game series. Many feared the Pirates would not keep up their pace in the second half as they’ve tended to fall off, but they will look to prove their doubters wrong starting with a seven-game road trip against the Nationals and Marlins.
5. Oakland Athletics (57-41, previous No. 4) – Even though the Athletics lost two-of-three to the Angels last weekend they still maintain their lead over the Rangers for the AL West lead. Solid pitching has been the biggest surprise for Oakland this season as the A's lead the AL in team ERA with a 3.62 mark. They travel to Houston for three games before 10 straight at home.
6. Baltimore Orioles (56-43, previous No. 8) – Baltimore has quietly won four games in a row, but still remain 3.5 games back and in third place in the very tight AL East. Their three-game sweep on the road in Texas this past weekend was impressive and proves to the rest of the league that they are primed for a playoff run. The Orioles will play four games in Kansas City before a big weekend series at home against the Red Sox.
7. Cincinnati Reds (55-43, previous No. 9) – The Reds took two-of-three over the Pirates at home, but their issues have been on the road as they are 23-26 this season. They trail the Cards by five games in the NL Central, by far the best division in baseball. An 11-game West Coast trip awaits the Reds beginning Monday in San Francisco.
8. Atlanta Braves (55-43, previous No. 7) – Even though the Braves lead the NL East, they certainly are not playing as well as they would like. They dropped two-of-three against the White Sox over the weekend and are now 24-28 on the road this season. Atlanta will travel to New York to take on the surging Mets, before a weekend series at home against the Cardinals.
9. Texas Rangers (54-54, previous No. 6) - Texas is in a bit of a funk as it has lost four games in a row and seven of its last 10. The Rangers find themselves three games behind the Athletics for first place in the AL West. The Rangers still have the second-best team ERA in the American League at 3.77, trailing only the Athletics. Texas will look to get back on the winning track with three-games against the Yankees at home before traveling to Cleveland for a weekend series with the Indians.
10. Detroit Tigers (53-44, previous No. 10) – The Tigers have kept their slim lead in the AL Central, one of the least competitive divisions in baseball. Although they are just nine games over .500, they are in a tie for the best run differential in the AL at plus-90. Their issue of late has been pitching as they had the best team ERA in the AL for much of the year, but are now sixth at 3.85. Detroit will continue its road trip with four games against the White Sox before a weekend series at home with the Phillies.
11. Cleveland Indians (52-46, previous No. 11) – Playing consistent ball for the first time since the beginning of the season the Indians now find themselves in a tight race for the AL Central division lead with Detroit. The Indians are fourth in the American League in runs per game, but rank near the bottom in team ERA. They will play three games in Seattle before a tough homestand with games against the Rangers and White Sox coming this week.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (51-47, previous No. 13) – Although the Diamondbacks still lead the NL West, their lead has been cut to half a game by the Dodgers. Losing two-of-three to the Giants over the weekend didn’t help the cause as they scored just six runs in the three games. Arizona will play its next seven games at home taking on the Cubs and Padres.
13. New York Yankees (52-46, previous No. 12) – New York looked to be making a run at the AL East the past few weeks despite all of its injuries, but things are starting to unravel for the Bombers as they have lost six of their last 10 games and now trail the Red Sox by seven games. Their offense has been the problem as they are averaging just under four runs a game. The Yankees will look to turn things around quickly as they begin a three-game series in Texas against the Rangers.
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (50-47, previous No. 16) – The Dodgers are one of, if not the hottest team in the National League, winners of three straight and eight of their last 10. In their three-game sweep of the Nationals over the weekend they allowed a combined five runs, which is in line with their 3.55 team ERA, fifth best in the NL. The Dodgers will look to stay hot with a three-game set in Toronto before coming home for a four-game weekend series against the Reds.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (49-50, previous No. 15) - It’s getting to be make or break time for the Phillies as in the next few days they will decide if they will unload some of their players at the trading deadline or make a run at the NL East where they are currently 6.5 games back of the Braves. The Phillies do have a tough upcoming stretch with road games against the Cardinals and Tigers.
16. Colorado Rockies (48-51, previous No. 17) – Colorado has won two in a row and are right in the hunt for the NL West lead, only 3.5 games behind the first place Diamondbacks. Scoring runs hasn’t been an issue for the Rockies as they average 4.44 runs per game, which is second in the National League. They do have a relatively easy schedule coming up with home games against the Marlins and Brewers.
17. Washington Nationals (48-50, previous No. 14) – The Nationals are not playing well of late and thus have fallen well back of the Braves in the NL East and have dropped three spots in the rankings. They were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend and only managed to score five total runs. Washington will continue its long homestand with games against the Pirates and Mets this week.
18. Seattle Mariners (46-52, previous No. 20) – Seattle now has won six games in row, the longest current winning streak in the majors, but yet the M's find themselves trailing the Athletics by double-digits in the AL West due to an abysmal start to the 2013 season. They will play their next seven games at home against the Indians and Twins.
19. Los Angeles Angels (46-50, previous No. 19) – Offense has been the ultimate downfall of the Angels this season, as even with their powerful lineup they are only hitting .266 and trail the A’s by 10 games in the AL West - although they did take two-of-three from them over the weekend. The Angels will host the Twins for three games before another series with the Athletics next weekend.
20. New York Mets (43-51, previously not ranked) – The Mets make their debut in the rankings this week after taking two-of-three from the Phillies and winning seven of their last 10. Led by Matt Harvey, their pitching has improved as their 3.96 team ERA has rose to the middle of the National League. Their next 12 games are against NL East opponents as they look to make a last ditch effort to get back into the division race.
*Stats and records through Sunday, July 21
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84