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Saturday's power rankings

5/10/2015

1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals: The outcome was almost predictable: Bottom of the ninth, 4-4 game, Yunel Escobar on first with one out, and here comes Harper, stepping in against Atlanta Braves reliever Cody Martin. On a 1-0 count, Martin throws an 82 mph slider, and Harper connects. As the ball soars toward the center-field seats, Harper walks a few feet, watches it, watches it some more and then discards the bat like a used toy. Child’s play! It was his sixth home run in three games and the first time in his career that homered in three straight games. But nearly as impressive as Harper's walk-off homer were two putouts in the seventh inning -– a sliding catch on Jace Peterson's sinking liner and a running, over-the-shoulder grab to rob Nick Markakis of an extra-base hit with two outs and a runner on second. Stay healthy, Bryce. Stay healthy.

2. Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins: It’s been a marvelous May for Hunter, who had three more hits, including his fifth home run, and three runs scored in the Twins’ 7-4 victory. After hitting .205 in April, the 39-year-old Hunter is 18-for-39 (.462) with four HRs in May. The Twins, who are 8-1 in May and have won four straight, are following "Torrid Torii" in every way. After averaging only 3.91 runs per game in April, the Twins are scoring an MLB-best seven runs per game in May.

3. Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox: Congratulations to the rookie lefty for his first MLB win in his first MLB start. He was very shaky with his command in the beginning and walked Billy Hamilton and Marlon Byrd to open the game. But what could have been a disastrous first inning quickly turned into a scoreless frame when he struck Joey Votto out and induced a Todd Frazier infield popup that turned into a double play when Byrd was doubled off first. Rodon ended up striking out eight and walking four over six innings. For his efforts, he is apparently earning a trip back to the bullpen -- but not for long.

4. Neil Walker/Jung Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates: New rule: Any time there’s a triple play, it makes this list automatically. Saturday’s occurrence, the first of the season, wasn’t your ordinary triple play. This was a rare 4-5-4 triple play; with runners on second and third, Yadier Molina lined to Walker, who threw to Kang at third base to force out Jhonny Peralta, and then Kang fired back to Walker, who forced out Jason Heyward at second base. Everyone was confused, including Kang, the Korean rookie, who, according to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, was told "in multiple languages" to throw the ball back to Walker.

5. David Ross, Chicago Cubs: The best highlight from the Cubs-Brewers game was not Kris Bryant hitting his first major league home run. It was not the Brewers pasting the Cubs, 12-4 behind Khris Davis and Gerardo Parra. It was Ross becoming the second nonpitcher to take the mound this season and retiring three Brewers on 11 pitches in the eighth inning. The veteran catcher threw nothing but – ahem – fastballs that ranged from 59 mph to a blistering 79 mph. He and Oakland’s Ike Davis, the other nonpitcher to pitch this season, have combined to set down six straight hitters. Scoring is up slightly this year (4.23 runs per game, versus 4.07 in 2014), but don't blame the nonpitchers.