This Week in the National League: '08 Week 10

Summer is heating up and both teams and players are starting to get quite streaky. This week's jaunt around the National League is fairly short and sweet, so let's get right to the latest and greatest that is offered from the land of no designated hitters.

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (35-25) - The Cubs have been the talk of the league lately, but the Phillies have been just as hot, and quietly so. Chase Utley quickly ditched his slowdown in mid-May and caught fire to close out the month and start June. Utley has homered in seven of his last nine games and has 20 RBI during that span. Brad Lidge, who had just a miserable first half of 2007, is back to his old self. Lidge is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities and boasts a dominant 0.72 ERA.

Florida Marlins (31-26) - Having dropped six of their last seven games, the Marlins have fallen from the top of the East Division. Closer Kevin Gregg has struggled having blown his last two save opportunities. And Hanley Ramirez's production has almost disappeared. He's still scoring runs, but the power numbers have gone on hiatus. He hasn't hit a home run since May 12, and his last RBI was on May 13. To top it all off, now he's nursing a sore thumb.

Atlanta Braves (31-28) - John Smoltz blew his first save opportunity Monday night having given up two runs on three hits to the Florida Marlins. And while Chipper Jones continues to hover above .400, actually at .409, Mark Teixeira has taken the lead in RBI production. Teixeira had four home runs and 11 RBI in a five game span this past week.

New York Mets (29-28) - Pedro Martinez is back, and thanks to an eight-run fifth inning for the Mets offense, he's 1-0 to start the season. He wasn't exactly dominating, giving up seven hits and three runs over six innings, but it was good enough. Surprisingly Jose Reyes is not the team leader in runs scored this year. Carlos Beltran is tops in that category with 40. Reyes is close behind, though, with 38.

Washington Nationals (24-35) - The Nationals made it to June, but they finally hit double-digit games back in the standings. After Cristian Guzman's .300 batting average, the next best on the team with at 100 at-bats is Ryan Zimmerman with a .257 mark.

Central Division

Chicago Cubs (38-21) - The Cubs are simply on fire having won nine straight. They've had several comeback wins the past week as they've continued their winning streak. None was as impressive as their victory Friday at the Friendly Confines against the defending NL Champion Rockies, where the Cubs came back from a 9-1 deficit late in the game to win 10-1. Everyone is contributing, including Jim Edmonds. The former Cardinal and Padre continues his fight to extend his career. In his last three games that he's started, Edmonds is 7-for-11 with four doubles, a triple, a homer, and seven RBI.

St. Louis Cardinals (35-25) - One might argue that this Cardinals team loaded with new names and faces is quietly putting together the most remarkable season in the National League. Nothing is as telling as the recipient of the National League Pitcher of the Month honor, Todd Wellemeyer, who hasn't posted a loss since April 28 and carries a 6-1 record. And the latest new face to join the team is outfielder Joe Mather, who is one of the Cards top prospects and drove in a run in his debut Friday.

Houston Astros (31-28) - The Astros took a dive this past week, losing five straight before blanking Pittsburgh 2-0 Tuesday. Lance Berkman walked away with a well-earned NL Player of the Month honor for May. During the month he posted a ridiculous .471 batting average, clobbered nine home runs, drove in 22, and tallied 85 total bases.

Milwaukee Brewers (31-28) - The Brewers got a little bingo going! They've won five straight and eight of their last nine. Coincidentally Ryan Braun is also hot. The standout sophomore has his batting average up to .296 thanks to a modest six-game hitting streak, but he is also sitting pretty with 16 home runs and 44 RBI, both team highs.

Cincinnati Reds (28-31) - There's been plenty of talk that Ken Griffey Jr.'s pursuit of his 600th home run has been downplayed for no good reason. He's sitting with 599, so it's going to happen. Thing is, folks have just been too excited about Jay Bruce in Cincinnati. Bruce is batting .552 in eight MLB games and has already smoked three home runs and driven in seven.

Pittsburgh Pirates (27-31) - Last week the Pirates were flirting with .500. This week they're four games under, and now find themselves back in the NL Central cellar and 10 games off the division leading Cubs. Tom Gorzelanny, who had an impressive 2007 campaign posting a 14-10 record with a 3.88 ERA, is struggling this year through 11 games with a 7.22 ERA.


West Division

Arizona Diamondbacks (32-27) - All of a sudden, the Arizona Diamondbacks don't seem all that scary. The D'Backs have lost seven of their last 10 games slipping to just five games above .500. Closer Brandon Lyon has only pitched three times since May 15th, and none of them were save opportunities. On a high note, though, Randy Johnson Tuesday did tie Roger Clemens for second in career strikeouts with 4,672.

Los Angeles Dodgers (28-30) - The Brad Penny woes continue. He pitched well enough to earn a win on Tuesday, but he didn't get one. He held the Rockies to just two runs over six innings, but the Dodgers offense couldn't score a run. Penny now finds himself with a 5-7 record, having dropped five straight decisions. His last win was over a month ago, on May 2.

San Francisco Giants (25-34) - Bengie Molina has been red hot. In his last 15 games, Molina has raised his batting average from .267 to .328. Meanwhile starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez has been steady as it goes. Sanchez has pitched at least six innings in each of his last four starts and has given up two runs in each contest. With wins in back-to-back starts he now has a 4-3 record.

San Diego Padres (23-37) - The Padres jumped ahead of the Rockies this past week. Adrian Gonzalez continues to smoke the baseball. He has a league-best 55 RBI and is tied for second in home runs with 17. He's steadily improving year over year and might just be a 35 home run and 120 RBI guy this year.

Colorado Rockies (21-38) - The Rockies are struggling. They dropped eight in a row prior to blanking the Dodgers Tuesday 3-0. The team was in trouble before, but with Matt Holliday on the disabled list with a strained hamstring since May 25th, June 10th, his expected return date, can't get here quickly enough for the Rockies.


Got questions or comments? Sound off to pete@petekhazen.com.

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