The twelfth report in Pete Khazen's regular season weekly trip around Major League Baseball's senior circuit in 2007. During June, the pack continues to pull more tightly together.
a single team moved up or down a position in the divisional races this past
week. But things continue to tighten. The Mets are sliding. The middle of the
Central continues to be a scrum. And the three best teams in the NL are in the
West? Or at least we can say the three best records are in the West.
a stationary front has pulled over the National League and continues to linger.
Much like 2006, this league will be up for grabs. It's sitting there for the
taking, which can be frustrating for fans. Just one solid month, one solid
winning streak and that can be the difference between October bliss and
disappointment. Opportunities exist for teams to get back in the race or
distance themselves from the pack, but no one is seizing
- The formidable Mets have been not so in the month of June. They haven't even
won a series, going 4-13 and were swept twice, once by the Phillies and once by
the Dodgers. In the big subway series this past weekend, Oliver Perez pitched 7.1 shutout innings to outduel Roger Clemens in the opener Friday night, giving new life to the Mets.
But if fizzled quickly. The Mets got whooped the final two games of the series
and have split their first two of their series against
after being shut out by Johan Santana. The brightest spot for the Mets during this swooning
June has been Jose Reyes, who has hit safely in every game and has an 18-game
- Chipper Jones returned from the DL this week and got right back into his
swing of things. Jones hasn't gone yard or driven any runs in, but he's boosted
his batting average from a pre-DL .300 to .321. After going 0-for-1 in his last
two starts and missing his last scheduled one outright due to inflammation in
his shoulder, John Smoltz got right back on the horse Saturday pitching 6.0 solid
innings against Cleveland.
Smoltz gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out seven en route to
earning win number eight.
- After a dismal start, the Phils are just two games behind the Mets and a half
game behind Atlanta.
Ryan Howard's recent performance has been a big part of that
resurgence. Surprise, surprise. Howard is 4-for-9 in his last two games,
including home runs number 15 and 16. And his 18 RBI in June brings his season
total to 48. Cole Hamels, who leads the NL with nine wins, had his shortest outing
of the season Monday against Cleveland.
Hamels lasted just 5.0 innings and suffered his third loss after giving up eight
hits and six earned runs.
Florida Marlins (34-38)
- Dontrelle Willis left Tuesday's game against the White Sox with tightness
in his forearm after pitching just one inning. Hanley Ramirez (61) and Dan Uggla (57) are one-two, respectively, in runs scored in the NL.
Uggla is also proving to be a solid power-hitting, free swinger too. He has 13
home runs, which is second on the team behind Miguel
Cabrera's 16, and a team-high 76
- Playing for Triple-A Columbus, Brandon Watson had his 43-game hitting streak snapped. His reward for
such a feat was a call-up to the big show after a roster spot opened with
Robert Fick going on bereavement leave. Sadly, after winning two games
in a row, Jason
Simontacchi is the team leader in wins with four. Some wins
leader. Simontacchi was pummeled by the Tigers Tuesday. In a 15-1 rout,
Simontacchi lasted just 3.0 innings giving up 10 runs on 10
- After plenty of injuries, disappointing skids, and being on several bad teams,
Ben Sheets is finally on a good team, healthy, and pitching
consistently well. In front of a fairly hostile crowd supportive of their
Aaron, Sheets tossed a complete game Tuesday against
Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants, earning his eighth win. The
Brewers won the game without J.J. Hardy, who was scratched from the lineup with tightness in his
hip. And on the Prince Fielder watch, chalk up three more long balls bringing the
season total to 26 and the RBI count to 59. Add in the fact he was born in 1984,
and you can see just how special this budding star could
There's one thing the Cubs aren't afraid of in 2007, and that's to throw a few
punches. After getting beaned with a high and tight fastball Saturday, 6-foot
5-inch Derrek Lee got into words with 6-foot 10-inch Chris Young, and before you knew it fists were flying. Neither
imposing player landed a blow, but both were ejected and subsequently suspended
five games. Lee is appealing his suspension and continues to play as he awaits a
decision. Teammate Aramis Ramirez has not been playing though, as he landed on the 15-day
DL with patellar tendonitis in his left knee. On a side note, Sammy Sosa is sitting on career home run 599 and has two games left
against the Cubs down in Arlington
this Wednesday and Thursday with a chance for number 600 against his former
- After giving up 31 runs in back-to-back losses to
the Cards busted out with 25 runs in back-to-back wins to close out the series
That loss to the Athletics featured Danny
Haren's first game against his old club. Haren, who was traded
for Mark Mulder, and is 8-2 this season with an MLB-best 1.62 ERA. In
that same game, the Cards top pitcher this season, Braden Looper, was forced to leave prematurely with tightness in his
arm. He has since landed on the DL with a shoulder strain, and he joins both
World Series MVP David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds. Eckstein has been struggling with lower back spasms,
a pinched nerve in his lower back.
Snell burned his hand on a stove at home and subsequently missed
his last start Tuesday, but he is expected to be back on Saturday against the
Angels. Xavier Nady had three multi-hit, multi-RBI games this past week. He's
batting .282 on the season and has a very respectable RBI total of 42, which is
second on the team to Jason
- Brad Lidge landed on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique muscle
Tuesday night after the Astros' 9-5 win over the Angels. With a sweep of
this past weekend, the Astros have a little momentum building. Mark Loretta has been red hot at the plate, boosting his average from
.303 to .333 this past week. Mike Lamb has been right there with him. Lamb has six multi-hit games
in a row, including a 4-for-4 outing against the Mariners on Friday. During this
past streak, Lamb's batting average has jumped from .248 to .318, a very nice 70
- There's no denying that Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the most electric and enjoyable ball
players to play the game in recent decades. His all-out play in field and that
sweet, powerful swing were something else. Injuries have befuddled Griffey since
his move to Cincinnati,
but he's starting to pour it on again. And it's rekindling those electric
memories. Griffey has a six-game hit streak, moving his average up to .290, and
during that span, he's cranked four long balls, bringing his season total to 19
and putting him just 18 away from number 600.
Peavy saw his ERA rise from 1.47 to 1.97 and said enough was
enough. He went out last Wednesday in Tampa
and tossed win number eight, a two-hit, 7.0-inning shutout. He followed that up
with win number nine Tuesday night. Granted, he gave up three runs on six hits,
but his offense came through. They produced 12 runs in support of their ace
pitcher, who reached the century mark in innings pitched this season. For a team
to have the best record in the NL, the little things count, including the little
guys. Props have to be given to Marcus Giles for his role in the bench-clearing melee that started with
Chris Young and Derrek Lee. Giles is listed at 5-foot-8 inches, 175 pounds. He's
giving up seven inches and 70 pounds to Lee, and 14 inches and 85 pounds to
Young. Still Giles was the one to step in and separate the two
testosterone-filled giants, keeping an ugly situation from getting out of
- Jason Schmidt landed on the disabled list once again, and the Dodgers
have announced he'll be having shoulder surgery. He's out indefinitely, and the
return of L.A.'s
$47 million investment in Schmidt isn't looking good. Brad Penny continues to pick up the slack for Schmidt. Penny won both
his starts this week tossing two 7.0-inning, one-run gems. He now sits with
shrinking 2.12 ERA and a dominant 9-1 record.
- There's nothing like a come-from-behind victory to get a team's mojo going.
The D'Backs rallied from down six to beat the Devil Rays Tuesday night in extra
innings. Outfielder Eric Byrnes leads the team in four major offensive categories. He's
batting .310 with 10 home runs, 42 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases. His 36 RBI
is second only to Orlando Hudson, who has 39.
- Todd Helton is batting .324 this season. He was looking for a trade
in the off-season, and Boston
was on everyone's mind. Now he's in the middle of trade rumors with the New York Yankees. Helton has one of
the best swings in baseball still, but it's no secret that the team now belongs
to Matt Holliday. He's a machine. There's no other way to put it.
Holliday has five multi-hit games in his last six and a league-best .364 batting
average. He's also got two home runs, four doubles, and six RBI in the past
week, proving he's definitely not just a singles guy. Starting pitcher
Jeff Francis gave Boston's
Beckett his first loss last Thursday. Francis pitched 5.0
innings, scattering seven hits and shutting the Red Sox out to earn his sixth
victory this season.
- Ray Durham's power numbers are down this season. A career .280
hitter, he's batting just .261. And after that 26-home run season in 2006 that
produced a .538 slugging percentage, Durham
has just seven long balls this year and a .417 slugging percentage. Then there's
the tale of the two Matts. Matt Cain and Matt Morris have each started 14 games. Cain's ERA is 3.15 and
opponents are batting just .216 against him. Morris' ERA is 3.21 and opponents
are batting .253 against him. Still Morris' record is 7-4 while Cain's is 2-7.
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