The 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:
Lastings Milledge 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 disabled list.
Starting 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
Alfonso Soriano 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
The 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 three runs.
The 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
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
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
Catcher 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
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
supposedly injured his side during the weekend series in
The 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 hits.
Cory Sullivan is
in an ugly slump, going hitless in his last eight games (17 at-bats). The
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