The National League West has some competition brewing. Not a single team finds themselves under .500 after Tuesday's action, and just 2.5 games separate first from fifth place. Barry Bonds is still pursuing history, while Nomar Garciaparra and Shawn Green are reminding everyone that they've still got a lot of sweet swings left in their bats.
As the first InterLeague games approach this weekend, here's the latest and greatest from the land of no designated hitter:
had season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his elbow this past week.
To help their pitching situation, they gave Jeremi Gonzalez the call-up.
He made his first start on Saturday in a no-decision against
the new guy on the block runs into a wall face first, breaking his nose and
orbital bone, while making the catch, how can you not be inspired to win?
Aaron Rowand landed on the disabled list with those fractures, but he
motivated his team to a weekend sweep over
Who's this Brian McCann guy? He's the Braves catcher who is leading the squad in hitting this season with an impressive .352 batting average. Andruw Jones is back, and as evidenced by his 4-for-4 performance Monday where he also drove in four runs, he's definitely got his swing working again. In that same game Kyle Davies reportedly started the game despite soreness in his groin. He was forced to leave in the third inning with a strained groin muscle, and now will be facing an evaluation that could very well land the pitcher on the disabled list.
When Livan Hernandez can't even beat the downtrodden Cubs, you know things are bad. On paper, the Nationals statistics don't look that bad. Jose Vidro, Nick Johnson, and Alfonso Soriano are all putting up solid offensive numbers that plenty of teams would love to have, but they're clearly not piecing together clutch play and quality starting pitching.
Where has Dontrelle Willis disappeared to? The high-kicking, crooked hat-wearing pitcher is just 1-4 this season with an awful 6.22 ERA. His lone big-money teammate has not vanished, though. Miguel Cabrera is doing his thing once again with a .341 average, 6 home runs, and 30 RBI. Just imagine what his numbers would be like if he were on a team like the Yankees or Red Sox.
The Cards keep winning, but they suffered a huge scare late Tuesday night when Albert Pujols took a spill on a wet on-deck Cardinals logo while going after a foul ball pop-up. What the heck that slip-and-slide matt was doing out there is anyone's guess. Pujols got up after shaking the cobwebs, but the play was reason to remember just how quickly things can change in the world of baseball, especially after Sports Illustrated runs an athlete's picture on their cover. Hector Luna and Aaron Miles continue to split time at second base, and why not? They have almost identical numbers and combined are hitting .319 with two home runs, 14 RBI, and 21 runs scored.
reality setting in for the Cincinnati Reds? They got swept by the Phils over the
weekend and dropped the opener to
Catcher Brad Ausmus is hitting .340, but his other statistics just don't follow suit. He's only scored nine times and driven in just 10 runs. Regarding Brad Lidge, the Astros finally pulled the plug on the closer and relegated him to regular bullpen duties. Blaming a flaw in his mechanics that needs to be repaired rather than an Albert Pujols post-traumatic stress syndrome, Lidge will have to step aside and watch Dan Wheeler have the opportunity to close out games for the Astros.
landed on the 15-day disabled list once again after missing his last start with
shoulder tendonitis. His stint will be retroactive to May 2, but this doesn't
look good for the Brewers pitcher. Geoff Jenkins has a nine-game
strikeout streak going, including a hat trick against
Cubs snapped that losing streak at eight on Wednesday in
Craig Wilson was looking like an All-Star in April; not so much in May. The Pirate slugger hasn't hit a long ball since April 26 and has just two RBI in the month of May. Jeromy Burnitz hasn't faired much better. The Pirates outfielder is batting just .185 this season. How about that free-agent pickup?
Shawn Green has had just two games since April 24 without a hit. And in those 18 games, he has cracked 11 multi-hit games boosting his average from .203 to .336. Joining Green in leading the D'Backs to an impressive start to the season, Jose Valverde and Brandon Webb continue to tear things up on the pitcher's mound. Valverde has converted nine consecutive save opportunities, and Webb improved his record to a perfect 6-0 this week by earning the W in the first of two starts; the second was a no-decision as the D'Backs beat San Diego 6-5 on Monday.
man Cory Sullivan has 33 punchouts this season and his on-base percentage
is a non-ideal .338. David Cortes has been nothing short of spectacular
out of the bullpen. The right-hander out of
not having a single regular starter hitting over .300, the Padres lead the NL
West. Mike Piazza has helped the cause. Piazza hit a huge, game-winning,
three-run dinger in the ninth inning off Cubs closer Ryan Dempster, who
blew his first save opportunity since
Nomar Garciaparra had a 10-game hitting streak end Tuesday during which he drove in 14 runs. If only he can find a way to play a whole season. Teammate Brett Tomko is 5-1 and hasn't lasted less than five innings in a single start. He boasts an impressive ERA at 2.88, which has steadily been shrinking all season long.
Barry Bonds is still stuck on 713. Maybe another week will go by and that will have to be reported once again. He was involved in some fireworks Tuesday, though. In a blowout game where Bonds had two singles, Astros pitcher Russ Springer decided to let one fly behind Bonds to start his third at-bat in the top of the fifth inning. After three more inside pitches, one of which found Bonds' bat for a foul ball, Springer plunked the man sitting on 713. He and Astros Manager Phil Garner were tossed from the game. Brad Hennessey had a solid start as Matt Cain was skipped in the rotation on Monday. Hennessey tossed 5.0 innings and gave up just one run in earning the victory against the Astros.
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