American League's thrashing of the National League in 2006 continues. This time
And so, let's get you caught up on the latest and greatest from the NL clubhouses from this All-Star shortened week…
Everyone got to see just how special a star David Wright is. He rocked the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game finishing runner-up, but belting 16 long balls in the first round for the evening's single-round high. He then ripped a solo homer in his first All-Star at-bat. Too bad Wright's fellow teammate, and neighbor in the infield, Jose Reyes wasn't able to start next to him Tuesday night. Despite being the top vote getter among NL shortstops, Reyes had to sit his first All-Star game out after getting a deep cut in his right pinkie finger the final weekend before the break. Reyes leads Major League Baseball with 39 stolen bases at the break and has a nice .300 batting average to go with it. You better believe that those sluggers in the Mets lineup like having Reyes setting the table for them.
Jim Thome might be gone and walloping homers for the Chicago White Sox, but Ryan Howard sure is a nice consolation prize. Although he had a fairly quite few games leading up to the All-Star break, Howard is sitting with 28 home runs and 71 RBI. And showing you the classy player he is, he hung in to hit two more home runs for charity after qualifying for the finals in the Home Run Derby Monday night. He didn't wear himself out, though. Howard went on to take the crown, and on his winning blast, he nailed a Master Card "Hit It Here" sign, which won some lucky fan 500 free flights. Despite being in the middle of the playoff hunt, the Phils definitely have a lot of rumors. Will their skipper Charlie Manuel be ousted in favor of Lou Piniella, and will Bobby Abreu be dealt? Both are pretty unlikely, but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out and what impact the rumors have on the team's play.
Braves just aren't giving up yet. Some rumors are floating around that the
Tigers might want to bring John Smoltz home to Michigan, but you can bet
that Bobby Cox has his eyes set on a huge second half and getting back
into the NL East race. Edgar Renteria didn't exactly light up the
Marlins continue to battle, splitting a four-game set with the Mets last weekend
John Patterson had to leave Sunday's game with a strained forearm after just one inning of work. It's the same injury that had him out on the DL for some time earlier in the year. In that game, the Nats carried a 9-6 lead into the ninth inning against San Diego only to see Chad Cordero blow it by serving up a Khalil Greene three-run homer and a Mike Piazza pinch-hit game-winner. The game completed a sweep of the Nationals for the Padres, and might just be the nudge the front office needs to have that fire sale, which could move Alfonso Soriano, Jose Vidro, Livan Hernandez, and Tony Armas Jr. to contenders.
Redbirds dropped the opener of a four-game set in
Hoping to solve some bullpen problems, the Reds picked up Eddie Guardado from the Seattle Mariners last week. He'll take over as the club's closer despite pitching middle relief this season for the Mariners. Guardado might not be all the help the Reds need. The club has dropped eight of their last nine games, and ace pitcher Bronson Arroyo is winless in his last four starts.
Oswalt did have that rare relief appearance where he gave up that homer to
Pujols. Oswalt suffered the loss in that game. And after Brad Lidge suffered yet
another blown save to the Cardinals Saturday, Manager Phil Garner decided
to let his tired closer pitch Sunday in a non-save situation that ended up in a
losing situation. The Astros were positioned to cut into the Cardinals dwindling
four-game lead in the division this past weekend, but they came up looking flat
and broke and now sit six games behind
The Brew Crew ran into a hot-swinging, um, Chicago Cubs team this past weekend. They dropped three straight at home after winning the first game behind a fabulous Chris Capuano outing. The All-Star pitcher, who was a late add, has had the Cubs number this season. Capuano found out he didn't make the All-Star roster, tossed a six-hit complete game shutout, and perhaps prompted Phil Garner to take notice that he did belong on that roster. In three starts against the Cubs this season Capuano has tossed 26 scoreless innings. You do the math.
the Cubs should consider playing some home games in
Trevor Hoffman had converted 11 consecutive save opportunities and made 12 straight appearances without giving up a run. That is, until Tuesday night's All-Star game. The top closer in the National League this season just couldn't get that last out after making the first two hitters he faced look absolutely sick. Oh well, there's no excuse why the NL didn't score more runs anyway. And judging by how the NL performed in interleague play, they don't deserve home field in the World Series. But the Padres are definitely making their pitch to get there despite their lack of power at the plate. Adrian Gonzalez is their top home run hitter with 13 long balls, so don't be surprised if the Padres look to add a big bat before the trade deadline.
Andre Ethier is
for real folks. An
The biggest news brewing of the week is that Barry Bonds could be facing an indictment in the coming weeks for perjury before a grand jury. Who knows what will come of this, or who is to blame. No matter what, Bonds is definitely not the source of all things evil in baseball. He's not even the poster child. It's a shame this is all going down as it is, and it's just another distraction for the Giants, who continue to battle in a playoff race. Bonds might not be playing every day due to nagging injuries, but Moises Alou is sure making the best of his recent health. Alou had a home run and four RBI in the weekend series against the Dodgers, and continues to keep his batting average above the .300-mark.
amazing what a sweep of a division rival might do to spark some excitement in a
team. Shawn Green might not be hitting the long ball as much this season, but he
has his batting average up a good 20 points at .305. One thing to note, though,
is that Jose Valverde was optioned down to Triple-A Tucson after giving
up seven runs in his last two outings. He showed some electric stuff earlier in
the year, but Jorge Julio is the closer in the desert now. Julio's three
saves in the
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