Another week of baseball is in the books, which means it's time for our weekly grades. As a reminder, we're pretty flexible with our grades. We grade individual series, teams, players, coaches, umpires, whatever. We try to stick to the usual A through F scale but will make exceptions from time to time. Onward ...
|A+||Josh Beckett. Obvious choice? Yes, but it's merited. The 34-year-old right-hander on Sunday of course twirled a no-hitter against the Phillies. It was the first Dodgers no-no since 1996 (Hideo Nomo), and it was the first no-hitter in Philly by a visiting pitcher since Bill Stoneman of the Expos in 1969. As well, Beckett, nine starts into his 2014 season, sports an ERA of 2.43. That's after missing most of 2013 because of serious shoulder problems.|
|A+||The Blue Jays have barged into first place in the AL East on the strength of a great week. How great? They went 6-0, sweeping the Red Sox on the road and the powerhouse Athletics at home. This is the kind of surge that just might motivate ownership to add some rotation help leading up the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Nothing would erase those grim memories of 2013 quite like a surprise playoff run this year.|
|A-||The Cardinals swept the D-Backs at home (and allowed a total of four runs in the three-game series), and then they took two of three on the road in Cincinnati. In the process, they made up 2½ games in the standings on the first-place Brewers. The reigning NL champs appear to be rounding into form on a number of fronts. Is Adam Wainwright bound for the NL Cy Young this season?|
|D-||The Tigers went 1-5 this week. They got swept in Cleveland (twice on walk-offs), thus throwing the theretofore struggling Indians a lifeline. Then they dropped three of four to the crippled Rangers (and got outscored by a margin of 35-15 over the series). Detroit still has a nice cushion in the AL Central, but that's in part a comment on how weak the rest of the division is.|
|F||The wheels seem to be coming off in Boston. After Sunday's loss to the Rays (and seventh-inning snit), the Red Sox have dropped 10 in a row. They're now eight full games out of first place and on pace for 96 losses. They probably won't continue to be that bad, but if they do then the '14 Sox will go down as one of the worst defending champs of all-time.|