This Week in the National League

Heating Up Out West.

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:


East Division


New York Mets (24-14)

Victor Zambrano 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 Milwaukee where he pitched 5.0 decent innings and gave up three runs. Despite the pitching woes, the Mets continue to enjoy great success. But Cliff Floyd definitely doesn't fall into that category. Floyd is far off his impressive numbers from last season, batting just .193 with three home runs and 14 RBI.


Philadelphia Phillies (22-16)

When 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 Cincinnati. Ryan Howard was a big part of that sweep hitting three homers in the series, including two solo shots that accounted for both runs in the Phillies 2-1 win. Jon Lieber who had an awful start has caught fire. He has won his last three starts including a 2-0 win against Cincy on Saturday where he almost went the distance lasting 8.2 innings.


Atlanta Braves (19-20)

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.


Washington Nationals (13-26)

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.


Florida Marlins (11-26)

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.


Central Division


St. Louis Cardinals (24-15)

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.


Cincinnati Reds (23-16)

Is reality setting in for the Cincinnati Reds? They got swept by the Phils over the weekend and dropped the opener to Pittsburgh Tuesday, giving them a four-game losing streak. Felipe Lopez has finally caught fire, though. Lopez has a 10-game winning streak going, which includes eight multi-hit performances. Ken Griffey Jr. made his comeback this week, but the center fielder is just 3-for-16, and that includes a two-hit game day one.


Houston Astros (22-18)

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.


Milwaukee Brewers (20-19)

Ben Sheets 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 San Diego last Thursday. On the injury watch, keep an eye on J.J. Hardy who had to be helped off the field Tuesday night after injuring his ankle.


Chicago Cubs (16-22)

The Cubs snapped that losing streak at eight on Wednesday in San Francisco, but they went right back to it, dropping their next four. If there is a silver lining in their rough spat here, it's that Carlos Zambrano is back to his dominating, emotional, finger-pointing-to-the-sky self. Zambrano pitched eight innings in each of his past two starts and only gave up one run in leading the Cubs to their only two wins in the past 14 games. And to give Cubs fans some reason to believe, Kerry Wood was solid in 5.0 innings of work Friday playing for Triple-A Iowa. He gave up one run on five hits, while striking out three. The oft-injured pitcher known as Kid K will make his 2006 debut on Thursday afternoon against the Nationals, and will look to spark the Cubs clubhouse.


Pittsburgh Pirates (12-27)

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?



West Division


Arizona Diamondbacks (22-17)

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.


Colorado Rockies (22-18)

Leadoff 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 Mexicali, Mexico has only given up two runs in 15.0 innings of work and carries a nice 3-0 record with his low ERA.


San Diego Padres (22-18)

Despite 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 July 24, 2005. The Padres did lose Woody Williams to a torn calf muscle while running the bases in the Chicago series over the weekend. The Padres starting pitcher was off to a solid start after possible retirement rumors. He was 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA before injuring his calf.


Los Angeles Dodgers (20-20)

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.


San Francisco Giants (20-20)

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.


Got questions or comments? Sound off to

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories