This Week in the National League

Good Streaks and Bad Streaks.

Some teams are hot, while others are frigid. We're just six weeks into this long season and we're already seeing how damaging a losing streak can be and how rejuvenating a winning steak is. Here's the latest and greatest from around the league:

 

East Division

 

New York Mets (21-11)

Carlos Beltran is starting to heat up. He hit homers in three consecutive games and has a five-game hit streak going that has lifted his batting average to a respectable .284. And it's been Tom Glavine, not Pedro Martinez, so far that is mystifying the opponents with his changeup. Glavine is 4-2 to start the year but boasts one of the best ERAs (1.94) in the league for a starting pitcher.

 

Philadelphia Phillies (18-14)

It's amazing what a nine-game win streak can do for a club. And the Phils haven't been beating up on the Pirates and Marlins. They've taken it to Atlanta, San Francisco, and now New York. They did lose Mike Lieberthal this week to the 15-day disabled list with a bruised knee, but he should be back before you know it. The man leading the charging Phils, though, has been Chase Utley. He has raised his average to .317 and has driven in 24 runs while scoring 23.

 

Atlanta Braves (14-18)

Andruw Jones left Saturday's game with tightness in his back and is listed as day-to-day. He finally made it back into the lineup on Tuesday with a 1-for-4 performance at the plate. Brian Jordan continues to be a pleasant surprise for the Braves. The seasoned veteran's three-run homer was his third long ball of the season and brings his RBI total to seven and his batting average to .324. Considering he's had just 37 at-bats this season, that's pretty impressive.

 

Washington Nationals (12-21)

Jose Vidro continues to dazzle at the plate with a .336 batting average. Though the Nationals record is nowhere near where they want it to be, they are showing signs of life having won three of their last four games.

 

Florida Marlins (8-22)

The Marlins have lost 11 games in a row... at home. That's not a good sign. They're not playing bad baseball, but an 8-22 record is just dreadful. Collectively they have tallied up 242 strikeouts at the plate. First baseman Mike Jacobs is arguably the biggest disappointment so far batting just .176 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI.

 

 

Central Division

 

Cincinnati Reds (21-12)

Bronson Arroyo (5-1) suffered his first loss at the hands of the D'Backs, who rattled off 11 hits in their 3-1 victory. Edwin Encarnacion continues to produce after a hot spring. He continues to lead the team in RBI with 26, though Adam Dunn is doing his part to play catchup. Dunn had a five-RBI day at the plate Monday that included his twelfth home run of the season.

 

St. Louis Cardinals (21-13)

A weekend series against the Marlins should make any team smile. As does having Albert Pujols on your team. Last season's league MVP launched a Jose Mesa meatball into St. Louis night sky Tuesday to give the Cards a big win against a tough Rockies team. It was an odd night that saw Chris Carpenter toss 7.0 solid innings, but walk six men uncharacteristically in the no-decision. Even stranger about the game was its ending that saw Jason Isringhausen close it out for his ninth save by striking out the side and including Cory Sullivan, Jamey Carroll, and Todd Helton.

 

Houston Astros (19-14)

One of last October's sensations, Chris Burke, has been lost for a while with a dislocated shoulder that popped out Saturday when crashing into the outfield wall to make a catch. Craig Biggio continues to make that option called retirement seem foolish. Biggio is off to a hot start to the year with a .295 average, 3 home runs, 12 RBI, and 23 runs scored. Out of the bullpen, Brad Lidge has struggled a bit. He's blown three saves and holds an 0-2 record along with an ugly 6.19 ERA, but he continues to go out there and give it his all. He's still one of the best in the game, and there's no reason to think the Astros might be thinking about a demotion. His last blown save on Friday night against the Rockies also happened to be his fourth consecutive day pitching. He's not Batman.

 

Milwaukee Brewers (17-16)

Starting pitcher Tomo Ohko was diagnosed with a partial tear in his right rotator cuff. He'll be out for at least a few weeks and Ben Hendrickson should fill in for him temporarily. Though Carlos Lee's 15 home runs and 28 RBI have been impressive, the story at the plate so far this season has been Prince Fielder's .333 batting average, five home runs, and 18 RBI.

 

Chicago Cubs (14-18)

It took a couple weeks, but the Cubs learned what life without Derrek Lee is like. It means no offense. They're getting runners on base, but they can't buy a clutch hit. Every pitcher facing the Cubs as of late has been chompin' at the bit to boost their statistics. The club has dropped eight straight and 11 of their last 13. Greg Maddux (5-2) was humbled with his shortest outing of the season on Monday, lasting just 3.2 innings against the Padres and giving up seven runs in his second consecutive loss. On the bright side, Kerry Wood pitched a Single-A game on Sunday, tossing five scoreless innings while giving up just two hits and striking out 12 youngsters.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates (10-24)

The Marlins shouldn't feel so bad. They didn't go out and sign a bunch of high-priced veterans this off-season. The Pirates did, and they've still got one of the worst records in baseball. Jack Wilson might be hitting .313, but the team as a whole is batting just .234. On the bright side, young pitching star Ian Snell is starting to find a rhythm and has struck out 16 batters in his last two games.

 

 

West Division

 

Colorado Rockies (20-14)

Matt Holliday has just been mashing the ball. Since May 1, Holliday is 14-for-30, including three homers in his last two games, and has raised his average to .301. The Rockies continue to play solid baseball, and their bullpen has been a big factor. The staff has combined for an 8-3 record; granted Jose Mesa suffered his first loss Tuesday night by giving up a game-winning homer to Albert Pujols on Tuesday night.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks (18-15)

Chad Tracy hit home runs in three consecutive games last week, including a grand slam, a three-run bomb, and a solo shot. He has since calmed down a bit but continues to swing a solid stick. Brandon Webb also continues to look like one of the best pitchers in the league. He tossed 8.0 solid innings against a hot-hitting Reds team, giving up just one run and earning his fifth win in as many starts.

 

San Diego Padres (17-16)

After an ugly start to the season, the Padres ran off nine wins in a row and are right back in the thick of things. They swept the tailspinning Cubs in a four-game series that started with back-to-back extra-inning victories. Not a single everyday player is hitting over .290, but Khalil Greene continues to play solid defense and hit the ball when it counts. Despite his .239 average, Greene has been swinging the big stick, good for seven long balls and 24 RBI.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers (16-17)

The Dodgers lost Dioner Navarro to the 15-day disabled list with a bruised wrist. In 14 games, Nomar Garciaparra has 14 RBI. Now if he can just stay healthy and keep it up. Odalis Perez might be 3-1, but that 6.90 ERA and .328 batting average that opposing hitters have against him will catch up with the Dodger pitcher sooner rather than later.

 

San Francisco Giants (16-17)

Barry Bonds is at 713 career home runs as of Wednesday morning. It looked like he got that magical number 714 against the Cubs, but Juan Pierre might have snagged the line drive from carrying over the center field fence at AT&T Park Tuesday night. Jason Schmidt went the distance in that game for his third win of the season. Moises Alou, who was off to a fast start with a .378 batting average, seven home runs, and 25 RBI, sprained his right ankle and landed on the 15-day disabled list.

 

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


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