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Jul 29, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Austin Slater (13) steals second base against Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Chris Taylor (3) during the sixth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For the final time in August, let’s check in with the top… 18 in Major League Baseball. That’s right, the season of attrition continues as we lose two teams (or, one team and one player) to the discard pile. A big matchup later this week is happening between the top two teams, and it will be interesting to see if the Braves have it something of a ceiling after their rapid ascent this month. And now, feel the power:

1. San Francisco Giants (84-46)

They dropped the rubber game to the Braves on Sunday, giving the Giants their first series loss since July. Still, manager Gabe Kapler saw a silver lining with left-hander Sammy Long going through 4 2/3 innings to help keep the bullpen fresh for their next series against the Brewers, which starts Monday. (Last Week: 1)

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (82-49)

They just dropped two of three to the Rockies, which makes you go “Huh?” But they also got a scoreless inning of mop-up duty from infielder Justin Turner to help keep the bullpen fresh for the coming week, which includes a series against the Braves and the Giants — who have been in first place for 117 days. (LW: 2)

3. Houston Astros (77-53)

No sweep for them against their dreaded rivals from Arlington, Texas, but they must be happy with how rookie Jake Meyers has been playing in the outfield lately. (LW: 3)

4. Tampa Bay Rays (82-48)

After winning 11 of 12, they’re hosting the Red Sox starting today; Boston isn’t much of a threat to the division lead, considering they’re eight games back, but this series could have an effect on playoff positioning, with Boston tangling with the Yankees (and others) for a Wild Card spot. (LW: 5)

5. Milwaukee Brewers (79-52)

They must be feeling a bit bored; all of the recent controversy with the Brewers deals with how they’re not happy with the umpiring. A visit to the Giants should refocus them on matters they can control. (LW: 4)

6. New York Yankees (76-52)

They’ve dropped two in a row after winning 13 straight, and their road trip continues against the Angels tonight at the Big “A.” Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to pitch in the series. His worst start of the season came against the Yankees in June, and in a recent game he was hit on his right hand by a pitch. (LW: 8)

7. Chicago White Sox (76-56)

They signed Dallas Keuchel to stabilize the pitching staff before the 2020 season, and he did the job a season ago, but he’s got a 5.00 ERA right now and is the weak link in the rotation. Better options abound for starting a postseason game, unless he can reboot his season in September. (LW: 6)

8. Atlanta Braves (70-59)

They’re 19-6 since July 31 after right-hander Ian Anderson returned from a shoulder shutdown and posted 5 ⅔ scoreless innings against the Giants on Sunday. Their pitching has been strong across the board and they’ve gotten Jorge Soler to start hitting like he did in 2019. The Braves are a threat once again.  (LW: 10)

9. Oakland Athletics (72-59)

This is scary and encouraging all at the same time: Right-hander Chris Bassitt wants to pitch again this season after having surgery for facial fractures sustained on a line drive — an incident that he says he does not remember. (LW: 7)

10. Cincinnati Reds (71-61)

They surely would feel more comfortable in the Wild Card hunt if they went on another surge; the Reds are 10-10 since Aug. 9. Conversely, what team or teams are going to jump up and challenge them for a playoff spot? The Padres, Cardinals and Phillies spend most of their time imploding. Let’s see what happens starting tonight with Team Fredbird visiting Great American Ball Park. (LW: 9)

11. Boston Red Sox (75-57)They probably know this, but containing 20-year-old rookie Wander Franco will be a big key to this series. He’s working on a 29-game on-base streak. (LW: 11)

12. Toronto Blue Jays (68-61)What’s gone wrong with the bullpen? Talk to the Hand — left-hander Brad Hand. (LW: 12)

13. Seattle Mariners (70-61)

Let’s put on some Seager and rock, shall we? (LW: 14)

14. San Diego Padres (69-62)

Joe Musgrove throwing a three-hitter on Saturday is the kind of event the Padres will need down the stretch to get back into the playoff groove. (LW: 13)

15. St. Louis Cardinals (66-63)

At least we have Noly and Goldy. (LW: 15)

16. Philadelphia Phillies (66-64)

Three wins in a row, and Bryce Harper looks to be a player in the NL MVP race. (LW: 16)

17. Cleveland Guardians (64-64)

Oscar Mercado was obstructed twice on the same by the Red Sox defense, which keyed Cleveland’s victory to get back to .500 yet again. Also: What the heck, Red Sox? Get out of the way! (LW: 17)

18. Los Angeles Angels (64-67)Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani enjoyed milestone games to help beat up the Padres and snap a losing streak. (LW: 18

Dropping Out New York Mets:

big thumb’s down this week from Javy Báez got a big thumb’s down from Mets ownership. (LW: 19)

Also Dropping Out:

Miguel Cabrera, who did not reach any career milestone this week. Better luck next week, Miggy! (LW: 20)

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