Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 7/17/12
By Eric Luchetti and Jase Bandelow FOXSportsMidwest.com Just as the Reds are rising, they lose star first baseman Joey Votto for an extended period. Meanwhile, the very top teams are holding sway. 1 Yankees 55-34 Mark Teixeira is among the American League leaders in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage during the month of July, a very good sign for the first-place Yankees. 2 Rangers 54-35 After starting July with a five-game losing streak, the Rangers look as though they have returned to form just in time for series against the Athletics and Angels. 3 Nationals 51-36 Cant say enough about the Nationals pitching. They are the only team in the majors with three starters with a sub-3.00 ERA. 4 White Sox 49-40 2 Kevin Youkilis returns to Fenway, but the first-place White Sox are more concerned about how they fare against the Red Sox and Tigers on the road. 5 Angels 49-41 -1 Tough scheduling for the Angels to start the second half. After a weekend series in the Bronx, the Halos headed to Detroit for four before they host the Rangers this weekend. 6 Reds 50-39 2 The Reds were finally playing at a high level and now must face three to four weeks without the cornerstone of their offense, as Joey Votto undergoes minor knee surgery. 7 Pirates 49-40 -2 Andrew McCutchens numbers over the past month are as impressive as any in the history of the Pirates organization. Its time for the front office to get him some help. 8 Braves 49-39 2 Ben Sheets got a win with a six-inning, two-hit debut performance that came almost exactly two years after his last major league start. 9 Giants 49-40 2 The Giants swept through the Houston Astros but must prove they can win on the East Coast. 10 Dodgers 48-43 -3 Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp make successful returns from the disabled list, but an ailing Chad Billingsley could complicate things in the City of Angels. 11 Tigers 47-43 3 Forget his All-Star Game performance; Justin Verlander has been dominant this month. In his first two July starts, the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner went 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 innings. 12 Athletics 46-43 5 The red-hot As take the leagues best July record into this week. Lets see if that is the same story next week after they host the Rangers and Yankees. 13 Orioles 46-43 -1 Jason Hammels trip to the disabled list for knee surgery is the latest blow for a struggling pitching staff. 14 Mets 46-43 -5 In their past two starts each, R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana have allowed a combined total of 23 earned runs. 15 Rays 46-44 Evan Longoria, out since April 30, told reporters on Friday that not by any means is his season over. If he doesnt come back soon, it might be for the Rays, however. 16 Indians 46-43 The Indians, right in the thick of AL wild-card standings, will get a good feel for some of their competition with seven games against the Rays and Orioles this week. 17 Cardinals 47-43 -4 The Cardinals could have problems finding consistent playing time for Lance Berkman, but the bullpen inconsistency remains the real issue for the Redbirds. 18 Blue Jays 45-45 Ricky Romero has struggled with pitch control all season and needs to right the ship in order for the Jays to make a run. 19 Red Sox 46-44 1 Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz all returned from the DL in the past week, and Dustin Pedroia is eligible on Thursday. Now, about David Ortiz . . . 20 Brewers 42-47 1 Yovani Gallardo sliced and diced his way through his first start of the second half, striking out 14 batters in seven innings, a new career high. 21 Diamondbacks 43-46 -2 The D-backs' batting average with runners in scoring position was a blistering .063 (1 for 16) while they were swept by the Cubs. 22 Marlins 43-46 Ozzie Guillen yelled at Bryce Harper for allegedly having too much pine tar on his bat. Never mind his team scoring only three runs in three weekend games or anything. 23 Phillies 40-51 1 Getting Roy Halladay back in the rotation can only improve the chances of a second-half surge into playoff contention. 24 Cubs 36-52 3 Ryan Dempster became the sixth pitcher since 1900 to win at least five consecutive starts within one season and not allow a run in any of the outings. 25 Royals 38-50 -2 Alcides Escobar is in the midst of putting together one of the best seasons ever for a Royals shortstop. 26 Mariners 38-53 King Felix dominated the Rangers on Saturday, tossing a complete-game shutout with 12 strikeouts. The question: Will he remain in Seattle after this month? 27 Padres 36-55 1 The Padres won a game on a steal of home, something that hasnt happened in the major leagues in nearly 30 years. 28 Twins 37-52 -3 Josh Willingham had as many home runs through 11 games in July (six) as he had in any other month this season. 29 Rockies 35-54 Dexter Fowler is on a tear at the plate for the Rox. Unfortunately, he cant pitch. 30 Astros 34-56 Losing catcher Jason Castro and shortstop Jed Lowrie to the disabled list takes away two of the most productive hitters from an already-weak offensive lineup.
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