This Week in the National League: ‘08 Week 13

Some guys just find ways to keep getting the job done. This week's highlights are full of those names. But there are some surprises, some firsts, and some downright ugliness.

Without any further delay, let's get to the latest and greatest from around the NL.

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (42-35) - The Phils have dropped seven of their last eight, including their last five games, albeit against the stiff competition of the Red Sox and Angels. Still in those five games, the team has scored just nine runs. Chase Utley has been slumping and has seen his batting average drop from .317 to .291 in the past week. To give him a little rest in hopes it might recharge his bat, the Phils kept him out of the starting lineup Saturday. The result? A double and pair of strikeouts on Sunday.

Florida Marlins (40-35) - Dan Uggla continues to pour it on. He whacked another four home runs this past week and drove in nine to bring his season totals to 23 and 57, respectively. With his offensive charge and a slide atop the NL East, the Marlins are hot on the Phillies' heels heading into the final week of the June.

New York Mets (37-39) - After going 0-6 through his last 10 starts, Mike Pelfrey is piecing it back together. Pelfrey beat both the Angels and Rockies on the road the past week, which included 5.2 shutout innings in Colorado. David Wright continues to be the offensive leader on the team. He has 56 RBI this season after driving in nine in the past 10 games.

Atlanta Braves (38-41) - The Braves have been hot and cold all season, though particularly cold on the road. Mark Teixeira did heat up Sunday, however, as he blasted three home runs against the Mariners in Atlanta. He became the first Braves player to hit three home runs in single game at Turner Field.

Washington Nationals (30-49) - It's tough to find good news out of the Nationals camp week in and week out. When your top RBI man almost halfway through the season, Lastings Milledge, is sitting with a tally of just 28, you're in a world of trouble.


Central Division

Chicago Cubs (48-28) - After getting swept on the road to the Rays and losing Carlos Zambrano to the 15-day DL, the Cubs got out the brooms at home against their cross-town rivals. The Cubs home winning streak ran to 14 games before losing Tuesday night to Baltimore, and Ryan Dempster is a perfect 9-0 at Wrigley Field this season. Aramis Ramirez went on a tear in the White Sox series, belting four home runs and driving in eight runs. And new Cub Jim Edmonds put his name in Cubbie history cranking two opposite field home runs in the same inning of Saturday's game, becoming only the third Cub to achieve the rare feat.

St. Louis Cardinals (44-33) - After getting swept at home by their cross-state rivals, the Royals, the Cardinals went on the road to Boston and nearly took all three. The Redbirds have a lineup that is about as familiar as the Indians lineup was to fans in the movie Major League, but these guys are finding ways to win and boast the second best record in the NL. Kyle Lohse continues his dominance. He's 6-0 in his last six starts and has only given up eight runs in that span.

Milwaukee Brewers (43-34) - Quietly hanging around, the Brewers are no doubt in the thick of the hunt. Prince Fielder is heating up as the summer temps climb. He has five home runs and eight RBI in his last six games - all against AL pitching. Meanwhile, good ol' Ben Sheets is right back on track. He's 3-0 in his last three starts and tossed a complete game Monday night to beat the Braves. Sheets is now 9-1 on the season with a 2.54 ERA.

Pittsburgh Pirates (37-40) - At the ripe age of 29, Xavier Nady is out to have his best season yet. He knocked a career-high 20 home runs last season and drove in another personal best 72 runs, but with a 2008 home run tally of 10 and RBI total of 49, he's well on pace to shatter last years numbers. Oh, and his .314 batting average is 37 points above his career average.

Houston Astros (35-41) - Since May 18, Lance Berkman's batting average has steadily dropped from .399 to .354. He might not flirt with .400 again this year, but I don't think folks are complaining about his output this season. On side notes, pitcher Shawn Chacon was yanked from the starting rotation this week, and second baseman Kazuo Matsui strained his hamstring and could be headed to the DL pending an evaluation early this week.

Cincinnati Reds (35-43) - The Reds haven't exactly been a force this season, but they managed to walk into Yankee Stadium and take two of three from New York. Kudos went to rookie Daryl Thompson, who in his first MLB game tossed 5.0 shutout innings against the Yankees Saturday. Thanks to a late offensive breakout, he didn't earn the W, but all were impressed and the Reds took home a win.


West Division

Arizona Diamondbacks (40-37) - Brandon Webb's struggles continue. His D'Backs have lost each of his last three starts, during which he's 0-2. He was cruising along against Minnesota Sunday until a five-run fifth inning did him in. Though Arizona has struggled the past month or so, they will undoubtedly get a boost from Eric Byrnes, who is fresh off the DL.

Los Angeles Dodgers (35-40) - The Dodgers just aren't a long ball offense. Jeff Kent leads the team in home runs with eight, while Matt Kemp and Russell Martin are close behind with seven. They are tied for dead last in the NL as a team with just 50. They do try to make up with it via their speed, though. The team is fourth best in the NL with 64 steals, of which Juan Pierre is leading the way with 29.

San Francisco Giants (33-44) - Budding staff ace Tim Lincecum has gotten a no-decision in each of his last three starts. He hasn't looked as sharp in his past two outings, having given up nine runs in 12.0 innings, but he still boasts a quite impressive 2.54 season ERA. And though closer Brian Wilson sits with 19 saves, he's seen action in just one game since June 12th, and that was a non-save opportunity.

Colorado Rockies (32-45) - Ubaldo Jimenez was winless in 13 starts since April 8, but tossed an eight-inning, two-hit, one-run gem against the Mets Saturday, good enough for his second win of the season. Second baseman Jeff Baker is starting to show signs he might just have that Chase Utley-like power. Baker has lifted his average from .260 to .294 in the past week and homered in four consecutive games.

San Diego Padres (32-45) - On a team and offense that can be limp at times, Adrian Gonzalez is having a monster season. The first baseman rattled off another four home runs and seven RBI in his last 10 games, bringing his season totals to 21 and a league-best 65.

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


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