This Week in the National League – Week 18

The 18th report in Pete Khazen's regular season weekly trip around Major League Baseball's National League in 2007 calls out Barry Bonds' new career home run record, Tom Glavine's 300th win and much more.

Tom Glavine and Barry Bonds left us with two historic moments in baseball this week. Interestingly enough, Glavine's feat might just be something that will be more of a rarity going forward than Bonds', but time will only tell. There was a lot of action around the league as playoff races and temperatures across the nation heat up. Here's the latest and greatest to report:

 

East Division

 

New York Mets (63-49) - Tom Glavine took center stage on Sunday Night Baseball leading his Mets to victory over the Cubs. He was masterful giving up just six hits and two runs over 6.1 innings en route to career win number 300. He became the 23rd pitcher to meet that milestone and just the fifth lefty all time to do so. His Mets continue to keep their lead above the NL East. Luis Castillo has proven to be a key acquisition already. Added to the roster at the trade deadline Castillo has dazzled with his glove at second base, and he had his first four-hit game with the Mets on Sunday night.

 

Atlanta Braves (60-53) - The Braves took the first of a big three game series with the NL East-leading Mets. They're riding a modest three-game winning streak. Starting pitcher Tim Hudson has won six straight decisions, including his past two starts during which he's pitched 14.0 shutout innings and struck out 12 while only walking three. Chipper Jones and Edgar Renteria continue to be among the top five in the NL in batting average. Jones (.338) currently has a slight lead on Renteria (.336). Renteria, unfortunately, though, landed on the DL this week with a sprained ankle.

 

Philadelphia Phillies (59-53) - Ryan Howard hit two home runs Tuesday night brining his season total to 32. The two blasts give him three long balls in his last three games. He's now just one home run behind league leading Prince Fielder (33). After losing three straight decisions, Jamie Moyer has bounced back to win three straight. He earned win number 10 on the season with a solid performance Tuesday night lasting 6.0 innings against the Marlins and giving up just five hits and one run.

 

Florida Marlins (52-61) - Hanley Ramirez is turning out to be one special baseball player. The exciting sophomore has homered in three consecutive games bringing his season total out of the shortstop position to 20. He also leads the NL in batting with a .342 average, is second with 85 runs scored, and is third with 32 stolen bases. Dontrelle Willis has not shared similar success this season. Willis hasn't earned a victory since May 29. His season record stands at 7-11 and his ERA has hovered around 5.00 for a majority of the season.

 

Washington Nationals (52-61) - Mike Bascik was the pitcher that finally fell victim to Barry Bonds and the 756th home run. Bascik wasn't shy and went right after Bonds, but the slugger got the best of him in all three at-bats, including the last when he set the record. Bascik hung his head as the ball soared to the deepest part of AT&T Park and then tipped his cap to Bonds. The Nationals have had some success this week, though. They've won seven of their last eight, sweeping both Cincinnati and St. Louis. Ryan Zimmerman has been on a tear. He's had six multi-hit games in his last 10 and has driven in 13 runs in that same span.

 

Central Division

 

Milwaukee Brewers (60-54) - The Brewers were forced to look up to the Cubs for a couple days. Chicago caught them and took the lead in percentage points, but the Brewers have snagged the lead back. They've held on the past few days mainly because the Cubs haven't managed to win. Milwaukee has lost three straight and seven of their last 10. Rookie Ryan Braun continues to shine, though. He's batting .346, has a six-game hit streak going, and has homered three times in his last four games.

 

Chicago Cubs (58-54) - The Cubs got a taste of first place on a walk-off wild pitch thanks to Brett Myers and the Phillies. But they've slumped a bit since then losing five of their last six. Offensive production has been hard to come by, and they took a huge hit on Sunday night when Alfonso Soriano pulled up with a strained quadriceps muscle trying to go from first to third on a single. Soriano is slated to be out until September, perhaps returning Labor Day weekend. Kerry Wood also made a svelte return Sunday night and will provide the Cubs a boost in the bullpen.

 

St. Louis Cardinals (51-59) - After taking it to the Brewers two weekends ago, the Cardinals were looking to get back into the playoff race. They're still alive in it, but the club managed to lose five straight to Pittsburgh and Washington, which can never help in a pennant race. The did bust out for one inning on Monday night against the Padres, tying an MLB record by getting 10 consecutive hits in one inning, good for 10 runs in a 10-5 victory over the Padres.
 
Houston Astros (50-63) - Could the Astros be getting back into the race? Still 13 games under .500, Houston has cut their deficit in the division to single digits thanks in part to two straight wins over the Cubs. Carlos Lee has had a pair of hits in five of his last six games, also homering twice and driving in six to bring his season total to 92 RBI. Roy Oswalt is starting to get back on track and heat up. He's won three straight starts lasting a total 19 innings, giving up just two earned runs, and striking out 19, including a 10 K performance against San Diego on July 28th.

 

Cincinnati Reds (48-64) - After major reconstructive surgery on his elbow almost a year ago, Eddie Guardado returned to the Reds bullpen this week. The activation came just days after outfielder Ryan Freel landed on the DL with torn cartilage in his knee. Freel who was seeing more regular time this season than in any past year has struggled offensively. He's batting just .245 and his stolen base production is down considerably from the past two years where he swiped 36 and 37.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates (45-64) - Tom Gorzelanny pitched seven strong innings Tuesday night to beat the Diamondbacks and earn his tenth win of the season. He gave up just two runs on four hits while striking out nine. Other than that, there's not much else too exciting going on in Pittsburgh.

 

West Division

 

Arizona Diamondbacks (63-51) - Justin Upton dazzled fans in his home debut Tuesday night getting three of the team's four hits and falling just a single shy of the cycle, but unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, it wasn't good enough to get the win against Gorzelanny and the Pirates. Still the D'Backs have maintained their narrow lead in the West. There's no doubt that Eric Byrnes has been a big part of their recent success, and he was rewarded this week with a three-year, $30 million contract extension. Brandon Webb continues to heat up as the home stretch approaches. Webb tossed a complete game shutout against the Dodgers on Sunday earning his 11th win of the season and bringing his ERA down to 2.92.

 

San Diego Padres (61-51) - After dropping four straight decisions, Jake Peavy has rekindled his flame. He's won three straight and has a 19-inning scoreless streak going. Look out, Orel! Peavy struck out 10 in a seven-inning shutout win against the Diamondbacks last Thursday and fanned another five through six scoreless innings Tuesday in St. Louis. Trevor Hoffman went almost twelve days without any save opportunities, but he finally got a chance Sunday against the Giants and capitalized for save number 29.

 

Colorado Rockies (58-54) - Colorado is picking up their pace a bit and have moved into third in the division. They've won their first two against Milwaukee this week and will take on the Cubs at home for a four-game set this weekend. Opportunities abound as Matt Holliday continues to be an RBI machine. With six more this week, he now has 90 on the season and is vying for the NL batting title with a .339 average. Todd Helton is picking up his game as of late too. Helton had a three-hit night on Tuesday against the Brewers, which included two home runs and four RBI, giving him seven in his past three games.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers (58-54) - The Dodgers have fallen into a funk losing five straight and sinking in the standings. Another bad week like that and they might fall too far back in the hotly-contended divisional race. The Dodgers have been blanked in three of their last four contests, and their poor run production has cost Brad Penny losses in each of his past two starts. To give you perspective, Juan Pierre leads the club with 66 runs scored, yet he ranks just 20th in the league.

 

San Francisco Giants (48-63) - Barry finally did it. 755 and 756 are in the record books. He tied Hank Aaron's record on the road in San Diego Saturday, sat out of the lineup Sunday, and then went for the glory Monday night in San Francisco. After being blanked Monday, all eyes focused on AT&T Park again Tuesday night and Bonds came through in his third at-bat with a 435-foot shot. He thanked the fans, his family, his teammates, and gave a special, emotional shout out to his dad up above. Though the home run did give the Giants a one-run lead in the game, they ironically couldn't hold on and lost 8-6. They have by far the worst record in the NL West, which poses the question for this franchise: Now what?

 

Got questions or comments? Sound off to pete@petekhazen.com.


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