What’s the only good thing for baseball fans about the first month of the 2009 season being over?
There are still five months left.
Coming out of the month of April, Joe Torre’s Dodgers already look headed for a second-straight division championship.
Los Angeles bounced back from a 2-1 series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates with a dominating four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres to claim the best record in baseball.
The Dodgers lengthened their NL West first-place lead to 4.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants.
The St. Louis Cardinals took two of three from the Braves and Nationals to build a 3.5-game lead ahead of the Cubs and Reds in the NL Central.
Meanwhile, it’s the addition of the Toronto Blue Jays, not the Tampa Bay Rays, to the AL East-mix that has made it the division the toughest in baseball.
Here’s how teams rank through May 3:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (18-8)
The Dodgers lead the NL in runs scored (141) and are fifth in staff ERA (3.93). They could lengthen their lead in the NL West with five divisional games this week. (Last Week, 2)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (17-8)
Albert Pujols leads the NL in home runs (9) and runs batted in (29) and is fourth in batting average (.356). Pujols leads the first-place Cards in virtually every offensive category. (Last Week, 4)
3. Toronto Blue Jays (18-9)
The Jays lost three of four against the Royals, but bounced back to sweep the Orioles over the weekend. Toronto leads all of baseball in runs (159) and sit 11th in staff ERA (4.12). (Last Week, 3)
4. Boston Red Sox (15-10)
The Red Sox stretched their win streak to 12 games before losing a heartbreaker to the Indians with an error in the bottom of the ninth.
They went on to drop three of four against the Rays to fall two games behind Toronto for first in the AL East. (Last Week, 1)
5. Kansas City Royals (14-11)
The Royals lead the AL Central after taking three of four from the Blue Jays and two of three from the Twins. The top-heavy division features four teams within two games of first place. (Last Week, Bubble)
6. Seattle Mariners (15-10)
Seattle lost two of three to the White Sox, but took two out of three from Oakland. Felix Hernandez has matured into the ace everyone expected him to be: 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA. Hernandez leads a staff with the best ERA in the AL at 3.60. (Last Week, 5)
7. New York Yankees (13-11)
The Yankees took two out of three from both the Tigers and the Angels. New York is second in the AL in runs scored (142) and gets Alex Rodriguez back soon to help the team with the league-worst 5.93 ERA. (Last Week, Bubble)
8. Florida Marlins (14-11)
Florida took two out of three from the Mets, but got shellacked in losing three out of four to the Cubs. Jorge Cantu is carrying the team offensively, leading Florida in batting average (.333), RBI (25) and home runs (7). (Last Week, 6)
9. Philadelphia Phillies (12-10)
The Phillies have the best road record in the majors at 6-2. Raul Ibanez (.360, 8 HR, 21 RBI) leads Philadelphia as they prepare for a difficult seven-game stretch against the Cardinals, Mets, and Braves. (Last Week, Not Rated)
10. Detroit Tigers (13-10)
Detroit dropped two of three from the Yankees, but bounced back to take two out of three from the struggling Indians. They sit just a half game behind Kansas City for first in the AL Central with seven-straight divisional games coming up. (Last Week, 7)
Chicago Cubs (13-11), Chicago White Sox (12-12)