As we get into those dog days of summer, this is where managers make their money. How they've managed their teams all season pays off these final six weeks. Most critical is how those laboring arms feel for both the starting pitchers nearing 175 or 200 innings, and those bullpen guys surpassing 60 appearances. It's gonna be a fun ride into and through September.
Here's the latest and
greatest from around the league.
York Mets (69-57) - With no definite return
scheduled for injured Mets closer Billy Wagner, the club went out and added some
strength to their bullpen with Luis
Ayala. He goes from the last place and the dismal Nationals team
to the middle of a pennant race. Not too shabby. Jose Reyes is leading the charge
atop the lineup, though. Reyes, who struggled through April and May this season
hitting in the mid-.200s has steadily racked up multi-hit game after multi-hit
game and has maintained a batting average around .300 since the Fourth of July.
Philadelphia Phillies (67-58) - Brad Lidge, who was sidelined and
hadn't earned a save since August 3rd, went back to work this weekend bringing
home two saves against the Padres. Lidge also closed out Tuesday's game against
the Nationals for his 31st of the season.
Florida Marlins (65-61) - The South Florida fish ran into the
Cardinals and Cubs this past week and took a few punches right on the chin,
knocking them off the NL East pace a bit. On Friday closer Kevin Gregg blew his first save
after running off 11 straight since July 4th. He swiftly bounced back on
Saturday, though, earning his 27th save of the year. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been quite the
source of production lately. He's boosted his on-base percentage 13 points to
.393 in his past 10 games, and he's scored eight runs while driving in
Atlanta Braves (56-70) - After dropping eight of their
last nine games, the Braves have dropped out of the playoff race. Miracles do
happen, but it appears as though the Braves ship has sailed. Their lone win came
with Mike Hampton on
the mound against San
Francisco. Hampton improved to 2-1 this year and lowered
his ERA to 6.92.
Washington Nationals (44-82) - Eleven straight losses.
25 games back in the NL East. 100 losses here we come!
(77-48) - The
Cubs aren't exactly Usain
Bolt in the 100m dash at the Olympics, but they are starting to
put a little distance between themselves and the rest of the division.
Aramis Ramirez is in
one of those hot streaks. He has six multi-hit games in his last nine and has
nine RBI in his last six games. Relatively new Cubs pitcher Rich Harden continues to shine in
his new uni. Harden tossed seven strong shutout innings Tuesday against
striking out 10 and lowering his NL ERA to 1.50.
Brewers (72-55) - For whatever reason Manager Ned Yost decided to
let C.C. Sabathia
throw 130 pitches for a complete game in a 9-3 rout of the Astros on Monday.
Sabathia improved to 8-0 as a Brewer. Make of it what you
St. Louis Cardinals (70-58) - Ryan Ludwick is as legitimate an
MVP candidate as they come. Ludwick continues to be the surprise of the season
in the NL. He leads the team with 31 home runs, 93 RBI, and 83 runs scored. Oh,
and that .304 batting average isn't exactly bringing him down in the ranks. And
if you haven't noticed, the Cards might just have figured out their closer
problem. Chris Perez
is 4-for-4 since blowing his first opportunity and has nine strikeouts in 6.0
innings of work during that span.
Houston Astros (64-62) - The Astros have been red hot
and have pulled themselves back into the playoff hunt. It's a stretch, but they
could still get into the fight for the wild card. Ty Wiggington, who took over for
Carlos Lee in left
field, has been a beast at the plate. Wiggington had a 15-game hit streak broke
Tuesday, but he has five home runs and 12 RBI in his last nine
Pittsburgh Pirates (57-69) - Catcher Ryan Doumit continues to have a
career year at the plate batting .323 this season. Meanwhile Ian Snell is doing
what he can to play spoiler. Snell pitched seven shutout innings in St. Louis Tuesday night
striking out eight and only giving up four hits en route to his fifth win of the
Cincinnati Reds (55-71) - Edinson Volquez pitched
back-to-back wins for the first time since the All-Star break. His second win
was his most impressive of late, throwing 7.0 strong innings against the
Cardinals, holding them to three hits, and shutting them out. His 2.73 ERA is
still good for third best in the NL.
Brandon Webb appears
to be in that same zone he was in for the first two months of the season. He's
rattled off seven straight wins, including Ws in his last five
Angeles Dodgers (64-61) - The Dodgers added to their
collection of veterans as they continue on a march for October. Greg Maddux returned to Los Angeles thanks to a
classy trade on the part of the Padres. And don't look now, but the arrival of
Manny Ramirez seems
to have had an effect like Roy
Hobbs joining the New York Knights. The Dodgers are hitting the
baseball. Andre Ethier alone has four home runs in his last five
Colorado Rockies (58-69) - Ian Stewart has been an RBI machine
the past few days. He has 10 RBI in just his last three games, including a 5-RBI
night Tuesday at home against the Dodgers. Brad Hawpe has been hot at the
plate too. Hawpe has homered in five of his last eight games and has 12 RBI to
Francisco Giants (53-73) - Tim Lincecum earned his 13th win on
Sunday pitching 7.2 innings against the Braves and giving up just one run on
three hits. He struck out 10 giving him double-digit Ks in three of his last
Diego Padres (48-77) - After being held without a home
run or RBI for a week, Adrian Gonzalez broke out of his mild slump with a four-hit performance
Tuesday, including a double and two RBI. He now has 91 runs batting in this
season and figured to blow by his career high mark of 100 last
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