MLB power rankings: Red-hot Orioles have showdown vs. No. 1 Yankees ... and Gerrit Cole


The New York Yankees bided their time, awaited their ace and all the while, put up the best record in baseball.

And now, Gerrit Cole is returning — just in time for their ascendant pursuers to arrive in the Bronx.

The Baltimore Orioles took care of business against two playoff teams this week, winning four of six games from the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies to equal the Phillies' 47-24 record.

And leapfrog them in USA TODAY Sports' power rankings.

Baltimore is now No. 2 in the rankings, just in time to head to New York for a three-game series pitting No. 1 vs. No. 2. The Yankees have a 1 ½ game lead in the standings, but this season has shown that the top spot in the AL East standings is subject to change.

And after winning two games in a loud, bipartisan environment at Camden Yards, the Orioles see their rivals face to face.

"It should be fun," says outfielder Colton Cowser, one of four Orioles to homer off Phillies ace Zack Wheeler on Sunday. "I think any chance you know you're going to Yankee Stadium, especially with the year they're having, it's going to be a great environment."

And when Cole returns from an elbow injury to make his season debut Wednesday night, it will be only that much more momentous.

A look at this week's rankings:

The Orioles face a big series in the Bronx this week.
The Orioles face a big series in the Bronx this week.

1. New York Yankees (-)

  • Gerrit Cole may be passing All-Star starting designation to Luis Gil.

2. Baltimore Orioles (+1)

  • Kyle Bradish's elbow relapse puts both starter, reliever on deadline front burner.

3. Philadelphia Phillies (-1)

  • Brandon Marsh is back, Trea Turner right behind him.

4. Cleveland Guardians (+1)

  • Pretty niche, but series with Mariners has "significant AL No. 2 seed ramifications."

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (-1)

6. Milwaukee Brewers (+1)

7. Seattle Mariners (+2)

  • Very quietly have 8 1/2-game lead after sweeping defending champs.

8. Kansas City Royals (-3)

  • Lost four of six to coastal behemoths.

9. Atlanta Braves (-1)

10. Minnesota Twins (-)

  • Carlos Correa calls 22-for-42 stretch best of his career.

11. Boston Red Sox (+2)

  • Well, at least they can beat the Yankees.

12. San Diego Padres (-1)

  • Uh-oh: Swept by Mets, now headed for Philly.

13. Cincinnati Reds (+4)

  • They and the Brewers the only NL Central teams with positive run differential.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (+1)

  • Finally get rid of Daniel Vogelbach.

15. St. Louis Cardinals (+6)

  • Six runs all weekend at Wrigley Field — still won two of three.

16. Washington Nationals (+4)

17. Texas Rangers (-4)

  • It might be all over before the cavalry — three injured starting pitchers — arrives.

18. Detroit Tigers (-4)

  • Top pitching prospect Jackson Jobe nearly back from hamstring strain.

19. San Francisco Giants (-3)

  • Dropping a home series to Angels simply isn't what a playoff contender would do.

20. Arizona Diamondbacks (+2)

Finally get back shortstop Geraldo Perdomo.

21. Chicago Cubs (-3)

  • Jordan Wicks follows Ben Brown to the IL — and might thrust Kyle Hendricks back into rotation.

22. New York Mets (+3)

  • J.D. Martinez red-hot — and Mets might be winning enough to keep him off the trade block.

23. Pittsburgh Pirates (-)

  • Rowdy Tellez's three-hit day pushes OPS to .576.

24. Tampa Bay Rays (-5)

  • Proposed stadium gaining political traction as club slips in standings.

25. Houston Astros (-1)

26. Los Angeles Angels (+1)

  • Logan O'Hoppe's 467-foot home run is fourth-longest in majors this season.

27. Oakland Athletics (-1)

  • Oof: A nine-game losing streak, including three walk-offs in four days.

28. Colorado Rockies (-)

  • Nolan Jones pops off the IL with three-hit game.

29. Miami Marlins (-)

  • Two runs in three games at Washington.

30. Chicago White Sox (-)

  • Top prospect Drew Thorpe walks five, gives up eight runs in second big league start.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB power rankings: No. 1 Yankees vs. No. 2 Orioles in AL East clash