The Cleveland Indians ended June by tying a franchise record of 13 consecutive wins set in 1942 and again in 1951. A 22-6 June puts the Indians six games ahead of the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals in the AL Central. The Royals are an enigma. At home they are 27-11, but away from Kaufmann Stadium they are 15-25. Only the Minnesota Twins, last place in the AL Central and the worst record in MLB, have a worse road record than the Royals. Nevertheless, the Royals are in the AL Wild Card hunt as are the Detroit Tigers who went 17-11 in June and are back over the .500 mark.
The Chicago White Sox continue to fall from glory. After going 18-8 in April, they have gone 22-32 since. As mentioned previously, the Twins own the worst record in MLB and are already 23 games back of the Tribe.
While the Indians are the hottest team in MLB, it is the Texas Rangers who own the best record in the AL. At the beginning of June, they were a half game up on the Seattle Mariners. After going 20-8 in June, the Rangers own a 8½ game lead over the Houston Astros. In April, the Astros went 7-17 (the same record as the Twins). At the end of May, the Astros were in a last place tie with the Oakland A’s. But they had begun to turn the corner winning their final four games and seven of their last ten. In June, the Astros went 18-8 supplanted the Mariners and if the season ended today would have an AL Wild Card berth. The Mariners went 10-18 in June going from ½ game out of the first to 10½ behind the Rangers. But at least the Mariners are over .500. The A’s went 11-15 to sink to 15½ games back of Texas while the Los Angeles Angels played even worse than the Mariners going 8-19 last month, losing 9 of their final 10 games. I know the Angels are riddled with pitching injuries, but so are the Rangers. How can a team with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout be in last place?
When June began, the Baltimore Orioles were three games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. After a 19-9 June, the Orioles now enjoy a five game lead over the Bosox who went an abysmal 10-16 much of which was caused by ineffective starting pitching. The Red Sox mediocre play allowed the defending AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays to get back in the race with a respectable 15-12 mark in June and stand a half game back of the Sox in the AL Wild Card race. The New York Yankees also went 15-12 in June and are back at the .500 mark. Yet they are a team at a crossroads. Do they get rid of Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman? Possibly both? The Yankees could very well be looking beyond 2016. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays finished June losing 8 of 10 and had an 11-game losing streak placing them 14 games back of the O’s.
In the NL East, the Washington Nationals have expanded their lead over the New York Mets from 2 to 6 games in the space of a month. While Matt Harvey seems to be out of his funk, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz seem to be getting into one. An injury to David Wright has not helped the Mets’ offense in a month in which they went 12-15. The Miami Marlins are clipping at their heels only a half game back of the Mets in the NL Wild Card standings. Early in the season, it looked like the Philadelphia Phillies had a chance to be contenders. They began June at .500, but after going 9-19 they are now 13 games back of the Nats and seemed to have regressed to the form that caused Ryne Sandberg to resign a year ago in favor of Pete Mackanin. Is Mackanin’s disciplinarian ways rubbing the Phillies the wrong way? The Phillies are still light years ahead of the Atlanta Braves who still own the worst record in the NL.
At 51-27, the Chicago Cubs own the best record in MLB and are running away with the NL Central with an 11 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Why can’t the Cardinals win at home? Away from Busch Stadium, the Cardinals are a solid 25-15. But in St. Louis they are 15-23. It’s going to be difficult to compete for a NL Wild Card spot if they can’t win at Busch. The Pittsburgh Pirates, on the other hand, have fallen on hard times. After winning three consecutive NL Wild Card berths, the Bucs went 9-19 in June and are now 13½ games back of the Cubs. Could Pirates manager Clint Hurdle be on the hot seat? The Milwaukee Brewers trudge along while the Cincinnati Reds are trying to keep one step ahead of the Braves for the worst record in the NL. The only thing Reds fans have to cheer about is Adam Duvall’s league leading 22 home runs.
The San Francisco Giants have a comfortable six game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. While the Dodgers are leading the NL Wild Card standings, they are not so comfortable now that their three time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is on the DL. And try as he might, Bud Norris (just acquired from the Braves) won’t make up for his absence. The Colorado Rockies are their usual inconsistent selves while the Arizona Diamondbacks end June with five straight losses. The D’Backs aren’t even worse at home than the Cardinals. Away from Bank One Ballpark, the D’Backs are a respectable 23-17. But at the BOB, they are an atrocious 13-28. The San Diego Padres managed to play .500 ball in June, but are still in last place in the division 16 games back of the Giants. At least Padres fans can look forward to their city hosting the All-Star Game on July 12th.
UPDATE: Make that 14 in a row. The Tribe beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in 19 innings. Carlos Santana slammed a home run off Darwin Barney to win the game. That would be Darwin Barney, the infielder. Their 14 consecutive wins is a franchise record.