The All-Star break is finished and the clubs are back at it. The trading block is heating up as are the divisional races. Who knows what October holds for the National League? Right now, all bets are off.
Philadelphia Phillies (54-46) - Opening a big, three-game set
with the surging Mets, the Phillies rallied for six runs in the ninth inning
Tuesday to edge New
York 8-6 and reclaim the division lead. Jimmy Rollins doubled home two runs
Taguchi's pinch-hit, two-run double. Closer Brad Lidge gave up a run in the ninth,
but stifled the Mets attempt at a comeback for his second save since the
All-Star game loss.
York Mets (53-47) - Don't let that All-Star game
fool you. Since Billy Wagner gave up that tying run he's 2-for-2 in save opportunities
and hasn't given up a hit. In his last outing on Sunday he struck out the side
for the save. He wasn't used in the ninth inning blowup Tuesday, though. Wagner
has been dealing with muscle spasms in his shoulder and is listed as
Marlins (53-47) - After being blanked Monday 4-0 by the Braves, starting
VandenHurk led the Marlins in reversing the score on Atlanta Tuesday.
VandenHurk has bounced back and forth from the minor leagues and made best on
his latest stint in the bigs. He pitched five no-hit innings and struck out
seven. He was assisted by three other Marlins pitchers in completing the
Atlanta Braves (47-53) - The Braves dropped two of three
in the first series following the All-Star break. More noticeably, they gave up
29 runs to the limp Nationals offense. Jorge Campillo looked impressive in
his second straight start, tossing 7.0 innings of shutout, two-hit baseball en
route to improving his record to 5-4 and his ERA to 2.83.
Washington Nationals (38-62) - The Nationals lone All-Star
picked up a two-year, $16 million contract extension. He's hitting .310 this
season and has been the lone consistent bright spot for Washington.
Chicago Cubs (58-42) - The Cubs sent eight players to
the All-Star game and have been in a funk offensively ever since. Their lone win
in five contests since the midsummer break came on Sunday when Ryan Dempster pitched a gem and the
Cubs beat the Astros 9-0. The Cubs are now 21-30 on the road and 37-12 at home,
where they return this weekend for a series with the Marlins. Kerry Wood, who has been dealing
with a blister on his throwing hand, hasn't pitched in real action since July
11. The club is avoiding the DL and hopes to have him back later this
Milwaukee Brewers (57-43) - Milwaukee is making their case known. On fire
since the C.C. Sabathia trade, the Brew Crew is firing on all cylinders. They
came from behind to take the first two games in a key matchup with the
Cardinals, thus leapfrogging them in the standings. And they have Sabathia
and Ben Sheets going
for the final two games of the series. Bill Hall got the Cardinals twice
with game winning home runs in both games.
St. Louis Cardinals (57-45) - With back-to-back, late-inning
losses, the Cardinals bullpen is now responsible for 22 of the team's 45 losses.
That's no small potatoes. Neither is the production from Troy Glaus as of late. Dating back
to the weekend before the break, Glaus has five home runs and 11 RBI in eight
games. He's also lifted his batting average 28 points in that
(49-53) - The
Reds continue to flirt with that .500 mark, which makes you wonder if
Dusty Baker might
just have some magic pixie dust primed for a sprinkle and a second half run.
isn't helping matters as of late. The Reds closer has pitched in four games
since the break, three of them save opportunities, and he was rocked twice,
losing the game both times.
Pittsburgh Pirates (46-54) -
After a major down year in 2007 having only hit 21 home runs and driven in 84
runs with a .247 average, Jason Bay has been quiet in the media. He is having a decent bounce
back year, more in line with what the masses expected from him. Bay has 20 home
runs, 57 RBI, and a .289 batting average through 98 games.
Houston Astros (46-54) - As the summer kicks in, so does
Carlos Lee. The
Astros outfielder has raised his batting average 30 points to .306 since the
first official day of summer thanks to 10 multi-hit games in July alone. And
though Roy Oswalt
landed on the 15-day DL, the Astros are still trying to stay in the playoff
hunt. The cellar dwellers picked up San
Diego's veteran pitcher Randy Wolf in exchange for a minor
(50-50) - The Big
Unit Randy Johnson
has had 14 career starts against the Chicago Cubs, the latest coming Monday
night. He's now 13-0 against those lovable losers. He outdueled Rich Harden to
win his third straight and improve his record to 7-7. With 291 career wins, he's
just 9 shy of 300. That might be tough to reach in 2008, but the way he's
throwing, I wouldn't bet against him.
Angeles Dodgers (49-51) - Two games in Colorado and the Dodgers
pitching staff has given up 20 runs. Thanks to a 16-run outburst on Monday, the
Dodgers did manage a win in those two games. They scored eight runs in the first
inning alone. James Loney, the club's leading hitter with a .300 average, led the
way with three hits and five RBI.
Colorado Rockies (44-58) - There have been lots of trade
rumors surrounding the big bats on the Rockies
squad. But folks, in this mediocre division, they're just seven games back.
Remember last September? With three more homers and seven RBI in his last five
games, Matt Holliday
is batting .340 with 17 long balls and 58 RBI.
San Francisco Giants
(41-58) - Despite
having two of baseball's exciting young starting pitchers anchoring their staff
in Tim Lincecum and
Matt Cain, the Giants
threw in the 2008 towel and traded away Ray Durham to the Brewers. It's
almost August and the club still doesn't have a hitter with double-digit home
runs. Aaron Rowand and John Bowker lead the team with
Diego Padres (38-63) - As bad as the San Diego offense has
been, Adrian Gonzalez
has 22 home runs and 74 RBI. Too bad he won't be playing for a playoff spot come
September; he would be a lot of fun to watch down the
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