Summer is heating up and both teams and players are starting to get quite streaky. This week's jaunt around the National League is fairly short and sweet, so let's get right to the latest and greatest that is offered from the land of no designated hitters.
Philadelphia Phillies (35-25) - The Cubs have been the talk of
the league lately, but the Phillies have been just as hot, and quietly so.
Chase Utley quickly
ditched his slowdown in mid-May and caught fire to close out the month and start
June. Utley has homered in seven of his last nine games and has 20 RBI during
that span. Brad Lidge, who had just a miserable first half of 2007, is back to
his old self. Lidge is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities and boasts a
dominant 0.72 ERA.
Florida Marlins (31-26) - Having dropped six of their
last seven games, the Marlins have fallen from the top of the East Division.
Closer Kevin Gregg
has struggled having blown his last two save opportunities. And Hanley Ramirez's production has
almost disappeared. He's still scoring runs, but the power numbers have gone on
hiatus. He hasn't hit a home run since May 12, and his last RBI was on May 13.
To top it all off, now he's nursing a sore thumb.
Atlanta Braves (31-28) - John Smoltz blew his first save
opportunity Monday night having given up two runs on three hits to the Florida Marlins. And while Chipper Jones continues to hover above .400, actually at .409,
Mark Teixeira has
taken the lead in RBI production. Teixeira had four home runs and 11 RBI in a
five game span this past week.
York Mets (29-28) - Pedro Martinez is back, and thanks
to an eight-run fifth inning for the Mets offense, he's 1-0 to start the season.
He wasn't exactly dominating, giving up seven hits and three runs over six
innings, but it was good enough. Surprisingly Jose Reyes is not the team leader
in runs scored this year. Carlos Beltran is tops in that category with 40. Reyes is close behind,
though, with 38.
Washington Nationals (24-35) - The Nationals made it to June,
but they finally hit double-digit games back in the standings. After
.300 batting average, the next best on the team with at 100 at-bats is
Ryan Zimmerman with a
Chicago Cubs (38-21) - The Cubs are simply on fire
having won nine straight. They've had several comeback wins the past week as
they've continued their winning streak. None was as impressive as their victory
Friday at the Friendly Confines against the defending NL Champion Rockies, where
the Cubs came back from a 9-1 deficit late in the game to win 10-1. Everyone is
contributing, including Jim Edmonds. The former Cardinal and Padre continues his fight to
extend his career. In his last three games that he's started, Edmonds is 7-for-11 with
four doubles, a triple, a homer, and seven RBI.
St. Louis Cardinals (35-25) - One might argue that this
Cardinals team loaded with new names and faces is quietly putting together the
most remarkable season in the National League. Nothing is as telling as the
recipient of the National League Pitcher of the Month honor, Todd Wellemeyer, who hasn't posted
a loss since April 28 and carries a 6-1 record. And the latest new face to join
the team is outfielder Joe Mather, who is one of the Cards top prospects and drove in a run
in his debut Friday.
Houston Astros (31-28) - The Astros took a dive this
past week, losing five straight before blanking Pittsburgh 2-0 Tuesday. Lance Berkman walked away with a
well-earned NL Player of the Month honor for May. During the month he posted a
ridiculous .471 batting average, clobbered nine home runs, drove in 22, and
tallied 85 total bases.
Milwaukee Brewers (31-28) - The Brewers got a little bingo
going! They've won five straight and eight of their last nine. Coincidentally
Ryan Braun is also
hot. The standout sophomore has his batting average up to .296 thanks to a
modest six-game hitting streak, but he is also sitting pretty with 16 home runs
and 44 RBI, both team highs.
Cincinnati Reds (28-31) - There's been plenty of talk
that Ken Griffey
Jr.'s pursuit of his 600th home run has been downplayed for no
good reason. He's sitting with 599, so it's going to happen. Thing is, folks
have just been too excited about Jay Bruce in Cincinnati. Bruce is batting .552 in eight MLB
games and has already smoked three home runs and driven in
Pittsburgh Pirates (27-31) -
Last week the
Pirates were flirting with .500. This week they're four games under, and now
find themselves back in the NL Central cellar and 10 games off the division
leading Cubs. Tom
Gorzelanny, who had an impressive 2007 campaign posting a 14-10
record with a 3.88 ERA, is struggling this year through 11 games with a 7.22
(32-27) - All of
a sudden, the Arizona Diamondbacks don't seem all that scary. The D'Backs have
lost seven of their last 10 games slipping to just five games above .500. Closer
Brandon Lyon has only
pitched three times since May 15th, and none of them were save opportunities. On
a high note, though, Randy Johnson Tuesday did tie Roger Clemens for second in career
strikeouts with 4,672.
Angeles Dodgers (28-30) - The Brad Penny woes continue. He
pitched well enough to earn a win on Tuesday, but he didn't get one. He held the
Rockies to just two runs over six innings, but
the Dodgers offense couldn't score a run. Penny now finds himself with a 5-7
record, having dropped five straight decisions. His last win was over a month
ago, on May 2.
Francisco Giants (25-34) - Bengie Molina has been red hot. In
his last 15 games, Molina has raised his batting average from .267 to .328.
Meanwhile starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez has been steady as it goes. Sanchez has pitched at least
six innings in each of his last four starts and has given up two runs in each
contest. With wins in back-to-back starts he now has a 4-3
Diego Padres (23-37) - The Padres jumped ahead of the
Rockies this past week. Adrian Gonzalez continues to smoke
the baseball. He has a league-best 55 RBI and is tied for second in home runs
with 17. He's steadily improving year over year and might just be a 35 home run
and 120 RBI guy this year.
Colorado Rockies (21-38) - The Rockies are struggling. They dropped eight in a row prior
to blanking the Dodgers Tuesday 3-0. The team was in trouble before, but with
Matt Holliday on the
disabled list with a strained hamstring since May 25th, June 10th, his expected
return date, can't get here quickly enough for the
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