1. Philadelphia Phillies: Their 9-19 June removed all doubt; the Phils' run of playoff relevance has ended. The step-by-step decline since their 2008 World Series title — 2009 NL champs; 2010 NLCS losers; 2011 first-round losers — will reach a new low, out of the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
Free-agents-to-be Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino should be traded before the end of the month, because it's re-loading time. After Cliff Lee picked up his first win of the season on Wednesday, he said: "I never thought I'd have to wait until July 4th for my first win, but it's been a weird year like that.'' Yes it has, Cliff.
2. Detroit Tigers: Below .500? Halfway through the season? In the AL Central? Has this really gone on for 82 games? There's no bigger underachieving team in the majors than Jim Leyland's bunch.
Doug Fister's problems continue, nobody else in the rotation behind Justin Verlander has stepped up, the bottom of the order produces precious little offense, and guess what? The defense isn't very good.
3. Miami Marlins: They finally spent some money instead of turning revenue-sharing checks into profits, but this grand plan — financed in part by the new ballpark — isn't working.
Their -59 run differential through Wednesday is 12th-worst in the NL, Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell are dragging this team down, Josh Johnson hasn't bounced back to ace-level effectiveness, and Carlos Lee isn't going to make much of a difference.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks: Don't say we didn't warn you about teams that jump up out of nowhere and post 29-game improvements from the previous season, as the D-Backs did in 2011. That said, a hot streak puts them right in the midst of a crowded playoff picture.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
5. Kansas City Royals: The good news is they've played better-than-.500 baseball since that disastrous 3-14 start, Salvador Perez is back, Jonathan Broxton has bounced back from surgery for 20-plus saves, and Alcides Escobar is blossoming.
But that 3-14 start, coupled with continuing rotation weakness and Eric Hosmer's sophomore struggles are keeping the Royals buried in a winnable division.
6. Colorado Rockies: Nobody was expecting much here — maybe something close to .500 if everything went right. But nothing has. Troy Tulowitzki's string of injuries looks like a pattern now. Todd Helton's back has diminished him to part-time status.
And bottom line, no matter how they are used, there simply aren't enough quality starting pitchers here, especially after injuries to Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio. Put it this way: There was no talk about 75-pitch limits, and two-tiered rotations when the Rockies were in the 2007 World Series. It comes down to talent, and the organization hasn't produced enough lately.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
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