7 Yes, the Rays have lost (7) straight to fall a half game back of Boston - but if you are a Tampa fan the thing you need to keep telling yourself is that the former D-Rays are still 16 games above .500 at the All-Star break. Tampa needs to win only 15 games after the break to equal the franchise record for wins in a season - but forget about that, these guys think they can go from "worst-to-first" like the 1991 edition of the Twins and Braves.
9 The New York Mets head to the break riding a (9) game winning streak. The Mets were three games under .500 a month ago, but today they are a season high seven games above the .500 mark. I know some people are giving Jerry Manuel all the credit - and he does seem to have the respect of his players, which says a lot - but what are we giving him credit for? Is there anyone out there who honestly believes the Mets would have gone the rest of the season without getting hot at least once if Willie Randolph was still at the helm? If the Mets are playing in October, then we can give him all the credit in the world.
25 Ian Kinsler heads to the All-Star game with a (25) game hitting streak for the Texas Rangers - the best in the majors this season. His teammate Michael Young is working on a 15 game hitting streak of his own, and for what its worth, the Rangers as a team are just plain hot. They lost 16 of 23 games to start the season, but since then they have won 16 of 23 series - not games - actual series, and they are four games over .500 at the break.
95 Josh Hamilton has (95) RBI in 93 games. I know everyone has been talking about what an incredible story he is this year, and for good reason, but the one thing that could really make this story beyond spectacular is for the Rangers to make the post-season - and then for Hamilton to light it up in October. Think it can't happen? I don't know - the entire buzz surrounding Hamilton seems to have affected Texas in a good way, and as a team they truly believe they will start the second half of the season with a legitimate shot. I say good for them - as a baseball fan, I'm pulling for the Rays and the Rangers in the second half.
495 It wasn't that long ago that the Diamondbacks had the best record in the N.L. - but they head to the break a game under .500 at 47-48, good for a (.495) winning percentage that would be no better than third place in any other division in baseball. Arizona is, of course, still in first in the N.L. West. The Rockies have lost four straight and are 18 games under .500, and yet they are only 8.5 back of the D-Backs.
574 The Chicago White Sox lead the Central Division with a 54-40 record - good for a (.574) winning percentage at the break. Ozzie Guillen, however, makes me wonder if the White Sox success comes despite their manager rather than because of their manager. I'm sure it must be frustrating to score 11 runs and get 22 hits, only to lose the game - which is what the White Sox did on Sunday - but after listening to the comments made by Guillen after the game I felt like someone should tell him that his players actually are professionals. Here is part of what he said: "This was the worst baseball game I've ever seen. The pitchers should look themselves in the mirror and be embarrassed. That was ugly. That's the worst I've seen in a long time."