National League is the definition of parity. Just about any team can win on any
given night. Even the Marlins and the Pirates are showing teams that they cannot
be taken lightly. With a rash of injuries around the league and some teams that
were struggling beginning to get healthy, the field is being leveled even more.
Just 13.0 games separate the Wild Card leading Reds from the league’s bottom.
Anything can and will happen in the final 17 weeks of the season. Here’s the
latest and greatest news from around the league:
got the call-up when Xavier Nady went down with an appendectomy. When he
launched his first home run of his big league career, the youngster was so
excited, he decided to give fans at Shea Stadium some high-fives. The move has
spawned countless discussions on whether is was a big no-no – that he was
showing up the pitcher and opposing team by doing so. Get over it. He was
excited he just hit his first home run just as so many other players are excited
after hitting a long ball and then hop out of the box, sprint around the bases
instead of jogging, or flip their bats and stand to watch it sore into the sky.
The Mets need that excitement in their outfield as Cliff Floyd left
Tuesday’s game with a sprained ankle and might be looking at time on the
pitcher Cole Hamels was activated this week after a two-week stint on the
disabled list. Tuesday night he showed just how solid a promising pitcher he is
by tossing 5.2 innings of one-run, three-hit ball against the Diamondbacks. With
Aaron Rowand back in the lineup and playing everyday, the Phils have as
powerful a 3-4-5-6 lineup in the league. Rowand has been batting in that six
spot, with Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, and Ryan Howard in
front of him. And with Chase Utley’s .327 batting average and 40 RBI in
the number two spot, the Phils are going to be a force to deal with in the
National League all year long.
Braves were swept by Arizona
this weekend and dropped five straight before pulling out a W against the
Nationals on Tuesday. Heading into that game, they had lost seven of eight
contests. With some sloppy play in the field, and a collision course with some
hot opposing pitchers, the Braves have been sliding downhill. Don’t expect their
struggles to continue very long. They’re just too good a ball club for that to
is hitting that groove. He had a big week at the plate elevating his batting
average to .311 as well as his home run total to 21 and RBI total to 43. Young
starting pitcher Mike O’Connor might only have a 2-3 record in eight
starts, but his 3.25 ERA and .221 opposing batting average is promising.
took NL Rookie of the Month honors for May. The relief pitcher was given a
chance as a starter on May 4. He’s 3-1 in six starts, and he hasn’t give up more
than three runs in an outing. The much-hyped rookie Jeremy Hermida found
this weekend that he really likes to hit in Colorado.
right fielder was 6-for-11 at Coors Field.
Cards were lit up with a harsh taste of reality when Albert Pujols pulled
up lame with a strained oblique muscle on Saturday. He’s out indefinitely,
though reports are indicating anywhere from 2-6 weeks. That most likely means
the Cards will be without this season’s best hitter until sometime in July.
Jim Edmonds, who has been recovering from a tear in his lower abdominal
wall, will be playing first base for Pujols. Still the Cards will be desperately
need a player or two to step up in a big way to maintain their pace of play.
Counting Saturday’s game, the Cards are 1-3 without Pujols, and they’ve dropped
consecutive series at Busch Stadium. Chris Carpenter did make his
comeback Tuesday night, but he lasted just 5.0 innings giving up nine hits and
Reds are simply on fire. Ken Griffey Jr. is just smokin’ the ball. He’s
got his batting average up to .298 and rocked a game-winning, three-run homer in
the ninth inning off Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen on Monday. Third
baseman Edwin Encarnacion did sprain his ankle Tuesday night. It’s unsure
how long he might be out, but expect Rich Aurilia to fill in at the hot corner
in his absence.
was a last minute scratch due to back spasms and missed his last start. He now
finds himself on the disabled list, though it looks like he is forecasted to
spend the minimum amount of time out of commission. With
slumping, this was the last thing they needed to happen. Sure, Roger Clemens just signed and is on the comeback trail, but just how good will
Clemens be after missing spring training and the first two months of the season?
The Astros did snap their five-game skid on Tuesday night when Wandy
Rodriguez bounced back from a horrendous 1.1-inning, seven-run outing Friday
evening to toss a 7.0-inning, shutout gem against the Cubs in earning his sixth
dropping three to the Nationals over the weekend to extend their losing streak
to eight games, the Brew Crew pulled out victories in their first two games of a
three-game set against a solid San
squad. Chris Capuano put the stop to the losing streak with a 6.0-inning,
two-run performance against the Padres. It was a solid game after his worst
outing of the season Thursday against the Pirates when he gave up 11 hits and
six runs in 6.0 innings or work. During that losing streak, Carlos Lee
had just one home run and one RBI and watched his batting average plummet to an
ugly .266 mark.
Cubs are starting to play better baseball and took two of three against both the
Reds and the Cardinals this past week. Jacque Jones continues to swing a
hot stick and is beginning to produce a return on the investment made by the
Cubs. Jones has lifted his batting average to .310 after hitting just .219 on
May 2. On the hill, Carlos Zambrano is finally looking like that Cy Young
potential candidate. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning with one out on
Monday only to have it broken up by Houston
outfielder Preston Wilson. It was the second time in three starts that
Zambrano had carried a no-no past the sixth inning. On the injury watch, both
Derrek Lee and Mark Prior are progressing with their rehab. Both
are looking like they could be back with the Cubs before the month of June is
Ronny Paulino might only have one home run and 13 RBI, but the youngster
has an impressive .323 batting average. Sean Casey had a big first three
games coming off the DL, but the first baseman has mustered just one hit in five
starts since then.
might be the talk of the town in Phoenix,
but Juan Cruz is starting to pour it on as well. Cruz has always had huge
potential, and the D’Backs have really gotten to see that potential come to
reality the past couple weeks. He’s won his last two starts and didn’t give up a
run in 13.0 innings. Interestingly enough, the Diamondbacks have been successful
without hitting the long ball. Chad Tracy and Eric Byrnes lead the
club in home runs with 10 each.
deal for Brad Penny is finally starting to pay off. Penny is 6-1 this
season with a 2.62 ERA, and he’s given up just two home runs in 68.2 innings of
work. Matt Kemp is also making his presence known in
The utility outfielder has played just 10 games this season, but he’s batting
.345 with four home runs and 10 RBI.
supposedly injured his side during the weekend series in
and was visibly in pain while swinging Tuesday night. The slugger will be
getting checked out by the team physicians, so keep an eye on this one. The
Giants also lost Mike Matheny to the 15-day disabled list due to a concussion
after being hit with a foul tip last week Wednesday. Jason Schmidt seems
to be perfectly fine, though. He pitched one of the best games in his career on
Tuesday giving up just one run on a solo homer and striking out a whopping 16
batters in a complete game 2-1 victory.
Padres have the worst batting average in the National League with a .251 clip,
but somehow the team is still battling to stay above .500. Having one of the
best bullpen’s in the league helps keep them in close games when they trail and
maintains those miniscule leads when they get them. The team carries a 3.06 ERA
from the seventh inning on, which is second best in MLB. Starting pitcher
Chris Young has been on fire lately. Young tossed 8.0 shutout innings in
both his last two starts earning two wins and giving up just three total
Cory Sullivan is
in an ugly slump, going hitless in his last eight games (17 at-bats). The
have been giving Jamey Carroll the occasional nod at the leadoff spot
over Sullivan with hopes that he can get on-base and generate some offense. One
thing is for certain, though. If the Rockies
can get the game into Brian Fuentes’ hands, they’re virtually gold.
Fuentes has blown just one save opportunity this year and boasts a 1.52
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