The 16th report in Pete Khazen's regular season weekly trip around Major League Baseball's National League in 2007. Controversy is no stranger across the Senior Circuit.
a gambling scandal in the NBA involving a referee and a despicable dog-fighting
controversy involving one of the NFL's most gifted athletes, Bud Selig
might just have it easy. A steroid controversy involving the player about to
break one of the most prolific records in sports and a serious debate involving
safety of coaches in baseball seem fairly pale in comparison to what the other
commissioners have to deal with as of late. Yes, there's lot of big news in
sports, but the beat of the National League goes on. And so, here's the latest
and greatest from around the league:
- In search of some breathing room atop the NL East, the Mets have won four of
five and still have five games left against Pittsburgh
Their lone loss came at the hands of Brad Penny, but they took the other three games in this past
weekend's four-game set with the Dodgers. Carlos Beltran hit homers in three consecutive games, and in their win
Tuesday night, John Maine powered the Mets with a homer of his own to go with his
seven strong innings on the mound.
- Chipper Jones is starting to look like one of those ageless wonders.
Though occasionally sidelined with an injury, the third baseman can flat out
hit. In his past eight games he has two home runs, five multi-hit games, and 10
RBI boosting his average to .347. After Bob Wickman blew a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth in
Tuesday night, the Braves rallied for a 13-inning win. Tyler Yates earned his second save of the year, just two days after
suffering a late-inning loss to the Cardinals.
Philadelphia Phillies (51-48)
- The Phils have a four-game winning streak going, which includes three straight
wins against San Diego's tough pitching staff. In those three games the Phillies
scored 28 runs, powered by none other than Ryan Howard who had eight RBI in those three games, including a
two-homer, five-RBI day at the plate on Saturday. J.D. Durbin has gotten into the starting mix, and he's 2-0 in his
last two games. He's given up just one run in 15.0 innings and tossed his first
complete game shutout on Sunday against Jake Peavy and the Padres.
Florida Marlins (48-53)
- Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez partially dislocated his shoulder Sunday and will be out
for at least a few more games. He currently leads the NL with 132 hits and is
batting .336. The number seven has not been kind to Dontrelle Willis. He's been stuck on seven wins since May 29 with an 0-7
record in his last 10 starts. That means he's got one shot left to avoid getting
skunked in two consecutive months.
- Infielder Ronnie
Belliard is hitting .304 and got himself a nice two-year
contract extension worth $3.5 million. He's fairly safe in
but the rest of the crew might not be as that trade deadline approaches. Teams
competing around the league are desperate for consistent hitting and relief
pitching, which means the likes of Dmitri Young and Chad Cordero could find themselves going from worst to first sometime
- Their lead has shrunk to three games in the Central, but they're still hanging
on. The Brew Crew's offense has been faltering a bit lately. Prince Fielder is stuck on 30 home runs, having not hit one since his
first game back from the All-Star break. The big man did manage his first triple
of the year Tuesday night, though. And though it might not be pretty,
Yovani Gallardo and Claudio Vargas are both 2-0 in their last two
- The Cubs continued their hot streak this past week. Though they dropped two
straight to Arizona
over the weekend, they rebounded with a tough 4-3 win Tuesday night while
visiting the Cardinals. Carlos Zambrano earned his 13th win and in a matter of 10 starts has
shrunken his ERA from an uncharacteristic 5.38 to 3.65. With the stick, it's
been Aramis Ramirez, whose hitting has been timely as well as consistent.
Ramirez has 14 RBI in his last 10 games and has also lifted his batting average
from .307 to .321, in part thanks to a four-hit night Tuesday in
- The defending World Champions are lingering around in the NL Central. With two
games remaining against the Cubs and three afterwards against the Brewers, it's
catch-up week for the Cards. They don't need to win them all, but they do need
at least a split to stay alive and keep the teeter-totter on the side of the
"buyers" with the trade deadline approaching. If they get back into the race,
though, they'll be doing it without ace pitcher Chris Carpenter, who went under the Tommy John knife this week.
Youthfulness has been carrying this injury-riddled team. And Skip
Schumaker has been leading the charge, batting .315 through 92
at-bats and driving in five runs in his last three games.
- On Tuesday, Craig Biggio announced his plans to retire after this season. He then
went out and cracked a grand slam to the delight of his fanatics, leading the
Astros to victory over the visiting Dodgers. The Astros did lose Hunter Pence and his .330 batting average to the DL with a sprained
wrist. Thanks in part to some solid defense, the Astros leapt over the Pirates
this weekend. Woody Williams pitched eight solid innings en route to a W, and Roy Oswalt looked like the Roy
Oswalt we know and love tossing six innings of one-run ball on
his way to his ninth win of the season.
Pirates (41-57) -
The Bucs are in a bit of a freefall. The offense just hasn't been there, scoring
just 15 runs in their last five games, including seven in their lone win during
that span. Tom
Gorzelanny continues to be the big bright spot in the rotation.
Though 0-1 in his last two starts, he maintains a team-best 3.20 ERA, has a
team-high nine wins, and has reached 132 innings pitched through 20 starts. Now
the true test comes to see how well he does down the stretch as he enters into
uncharted territory for wear and tear on his arm.
- After another disappointing season, finding themselves 17 games under .500,
for the Reds it's just a matter of who and when. They've got plenty of
high-priced veteran talent to deal. Adam Dunn is one of those guys. And you can't help but wonder what a
player like him would be like on a real contender. Would he thrive, or just not
show up. He's on pace to break 40 home runs again, and come close to 200
strikeouts. Interestingly enough, during his career, as his strikeout totals
increase, so does his batting average. Go figure.
Angeles Dodgers (56-45) -
Though they're struggling as of late, the Dodgers have held on to a hairline
lead in the West thanks in part to the fact the rest of the division has had
rough weeks as well. Brad
Penny continues to anchor this team, earning his 12th win of the
season beating the Mets Saturday. When he was pulled with one out in the
seventh, he had a little tirade in the dugout, but it's completely
understandable when you're one of the top pitchers in the league and want the
ball. Outfielder Matt Kemp continues to pound the baseball, which makes you scratch
your head in bewilderment why he's not playing every day. He's batting .371 on
the season, and in his last five full games played, he's 10-for-22 with three
home runs and 10 RBI.
- Midseason blues for Jake Peavy? The guy was lights out through mid-June with a
9-1 record and league-best 1.98 ERA. Since then he's gone 0-4 in five starts. In
those four losses, though his powerless Padres managed just four runs to support
him. Chris Young, who has been the unsung hero of this club with his 1.82
ERA and nine wins, pulled himself from Tuesday night's game in
while warming up in the third inning. He reportedly has an abdominal strain and
is listed as day-to-day. With the rash of similar injuries in the league, this
is definitely one to keep a close eye on in this tight divisional
- The D'Backs are heating up. Winners of four in a row, including two against
the surging Cubs, pitching has been their key to success. Yusmeiro Petit pitched six scoreless innings to lead
to a victory Sunday in Chicago
and a series win. Jose
Valverde chalked up four saves this past week, carrying his
season total to 31. He's given up just one hit and two walks in his last five
appearances, while striking out eight in 5.0 innings of work. Orlando Hudson has caught a bit of a spark. He's gone 5-for-9 in his
last two games, homering twice and driving in five runs.
In a division with no clear favorites, why not the Rockies?
They're playing .500 ball and are just 5.5 games behind the Dodgers. Starting
pitcher Jeff Francis earned his tenth win this week, but he couldn't pull off
the two-win week, getting a no-decision in a Rockies
win Monday. Rockies
first base coach Glenallen
Hill also made some news this week. Following the tragic death
of Mike Coolbaugh, a minor league first base coach who was struck by a
line drive and subsequently passed away from the trauma, Hill decided it just
made sense and went safety first.
- Barry Bonds cracked two home runs in the series finale on Thursday
last week in Chicago
bringing his career total to 753, just two within Hank Aaron's record. But he
was skunked over the weekend in front of Commissioner Bud Selig in
So the quest returns to AT&T
where the kayaks and swimmers might surpass the crowds we saw for the home run
derby just a
few weeks ago.
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