This Week in the National League - Week 9

A few notable viral infections. Some emerging rookie pitchers and a couple young arms back on track. A hotheaded player throwing an umpire out of a game. A veteran flamethrower preparing for win number 300. This week had a lot going on. Let's see the latest and greatest from around the National League.

East Division

Philadelphia Phillies (30-20) – The Phils are winners of five straight thanks to a weekend series with Washington and the debut of Antonio Bastardo Tuesday night. Bastardo benefited from 10 runs of support, four in the first inning before making his first pitch, and tossed a gem: six innings, four hits, one run, and five strikeouts. Raul Ibanez blasted two home runs, moving his season total to 19. And with his 5 RBI on Tuesday, Ibanez moved past the half century mark to 51 (mind you we're in the first week of June).

New York Mets (28-23) – The Mets took two of three against Florida this weekend, but opened up a road trip to Pittsburgh and Washington with back-to-back losses in the Steel City. Carlos Beltran, who has been out since exiting the game early on Saturday, and John Maine, who is scheduled to start Friday, are both battling a stomach virus that isn't going away easily. David Wright, who only stole 15 bases in 2008 after racking up 35 in 2007, leads the team with 12 swipes this season.

Atlanta Braves (26-25) – The Braves split a four-game set with Arizona over the weekend and opened up a home stand against the Cubs Tuesday night by rallying late from down five runs to win 6-5 in 12 innings. Jeff Francoeur, who has been criticized for his lack of production the past year and a half, delivered the big blow with a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth. Chipper Jones finished the Cubs off with a walk-off RBI single. Starting pitcher Javier Vazquez is among the league leaders with 86 strikeouts. He's had consistent numbers all season and his 3.58 ERA is more than a run better than last season (4.67), but he hasn't always gotten the run support he needs and has a 4-4 record as a result.

Florida Marlins (25-28) – Break out the smelling salt. Dan Uggla woke up. The power hitting second baseman has six home runs in his last 14 games along with 16 RBI. His homer Tuesday was his 10th of the season, and the 100th of his career, making him the fastest second baseman to reach that milestone in MLB history. Uggla needed just 502 games to blast his way into the books surpassing Alfonso Soriano's speedy 536 games. Meanwhile reliever Burke Badenhop (4-2) picked up two nice wins this week - first in a spot start last Wednesday and then in a 5.0-inning, impressive, one-hit, shutout performance in relief of Anibal Sanchez's short, 3.0-inning start.

Washington Nationals (14-36) – The Nationals are 1-0 in June after coming out of a six-game skid. Is it a skid, though, when it seems to be the norm. They were just 8-20-1 in May. Clearly things aren't working out in the nation's capital. The club does have three guys hitting over .320, though: Nick Johnson (.328), Cristian Guzman (.327), and Ryan Zimmerman (.322). And Adam Dunn has 16 homers and 42 RBI to lead the team. These guys are performing in the face of adversity. Potential trade candidates?

Central Division

St. Louis Cardinals (30-22) – Albert Pujols rolled his ankle in a scary moment Monday night sliding into second base against the Reds but was able to stay in the game. Nick Stavinoha, who was a virtual no-name until May this season, is quietly making his presence known. He's had a number of clutch hits for the Cards since getting the call and has tallied up nine RBI in his last 10 games. Interestingly enough, the Cardinals have struggled to hit for average, even with Pujols' numbers. Their .256 average ranks 20th in MLB and begins a common theme in the NL Central. But the pitching staff does boast an MLB-best 3.58 ERA.

Milwaukee Brewers (30-22) – After sweeping the Reds over the weekend, the Brewers started off June 0-2 with back-to-back losses to the Marlins. Still the Brewers are yo-yoing with the Cards for the division lead. Since his Milwaukee debut from the DL on April 27, Trevor Hoffman has been perfect, and he's a big reason why Milwaukee is where they are. He's given up zero runs and just six hits in 15.0 innings of work. As a result, the Brewers closer is 13-for-13 in save opportunities and has been a difference maker. Mike Cameron, who is a .251 lifetime hitter, is batting .288 this season. He cranked two home runs and had five RBI against the Reds over the weekend to lead the team in their sweep. Still the Brewers have a .250 batting average leaving them tied for 24th in MLB.

Cincinnati Reds (27-24) – Edinson Volquez returned Monday from a back spasm injury making a start against the Cardinals. He was greeted with a tingling sensation in his arm that has been diagnosed as tendonitis, requiring him to miss at least his next start. After Joey Votto's .357 batting average, you have to sink quite a bit lower to find the next best everyday player. Ramon Hernandez is second with a .282 average. As a team their .254 average ranks 22nd in MLB.

Chicago Cubs (25-25) – Seemingly a mess, the club is still .500. The Cubs managed to give up five runs to the Braves on two hits in the eighth and ninth innings of the game Tuesday night before losing it in 12. They spoiled Randy Wells' bid for his first MLB win where he pitched 7.0 strong innings of one-run ball, including a no-hitter into the seventh. Milton Bradley pulled up with a strained calf running the bases in the game to add to the Cubs injury woes. And Carlos Zambrano is facing a 6-game suspension after his best umpiring impersonation and ensuing tirade following his ejection for arguing a call at the plate. To top it off, Big Z missed the team flight to Atlanta and will have to do further damage control. On a side note, hitting just .250, the team ranks tied with the Brewers for 24th in MLB.

Pittsburgh Pirates (24-28) – Not very many pitchers can say they've stood toe-to-toe with Johan Santana and won. Zach Duke can after his performance Tuesday. Duke, who improved to 6-4, led the Pirates to a 3-1 victory over the Mets tossing 7.0 innings and allowing just one run over eight scattered hits. Don't be fooled by Matt Capps 5.60 ERA. He's shaping up to be a decent closer. He's 6-for-6 in recent save opportunities, and with three saves in four days this past week, he's got 12 on the season. Continuing with the team batting average theme, the Pirates are actually second best in the Central with a .264 average, ranked 16th in baseball.

Houston Astros (22-28) – Despite being in the cellar, the Astros are winners of four of their last five games giving fans hope for a turnaround rather than a trade deadline fire sale. In those four wins the pitching staff has given up just five runs. Miguel Tejada continues to see pitches in slow motion while at the plate. He's hitting .362 and has seven multi-hit games in his last 10, including two games with four hits. As a team the Astros have the best batting average in the NL Central (.271), good for ninth best in baseball.

West Division

Los Angeles Dodgers (36-18) – Joe Torre had some great Yankee teams with young, lineups that didn't have any crazy offensive numbers. But they were consistent. And it seemed like everyone hit .300 with 20-30 home runs and 80-100 RBI. He seems to have that again in Los Angeles. They have the best team batting average in baseball at .285 and have scored the most runs in the NL (295), yet no player has 10 or more home runs. And their team ERA of 3.75 isn't too far behind the Cardinals. Still, aside from Manny Ramirez, there aren't really any household names on the team. At least not yet.

San Francisco Giants (25-25) – By the time you read this Randy Johnson could very well have 300 wins, which is an amazing story in itself. He's clearly not got his prime stuff anymore, but he's still effective and out there competing. He also brings Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain one heckuva pitching perspective to learn from. Lincecum probably doesn't need a whole lot of help, but perhaps Johnson's presence has helped Cain this season. He's been lights out lately winning four straight decisions to improve to 6-1. And in the course of his last three starts, he's lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.31.

San Diego Padres (25-27) – Prior to the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa 1998 season, it didn't take much to get fans excited about Roger Maris' home run title possibly falling. It was a big deal for any player to hit 30 home runs prior to the All-Star Break. Prior to 1987 when McGwire did it, the feat had occurred only 11 times. After 1987 it's happened 20 more times. The last time was when Alex Rodriguez hit 30 in 2007. Playing in a pitchers' park, Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez already has 22 home runs this season and could be the next to add his name to that rare list. On a side note, Jake Peavy was sent home early from the team's road trip after leaving his start Tuesday with a viral upper respiratory infection.

Arizona Diamondbacks (23-30) – Doug Davis' 3.65 ERA tells a much better story than his 2-6 record. As does Dan Haren's 2.42 ERA compared to his 4-4 record. Yet the stories are still incomplete. As a team the D'Backs are hitting just .242. Only the Padres and Athletics are worse in all of baseball with their .239 averages. Now the stories are complete.

Colorado Rockies (20-31) – The Rockies have lost three straight and have scored a combined five runs in those games. For a team playing in the high altitude in a park known for some stupid power numbers, is it surprising that not a single player has double-digit home runs this season yet. Chris Iannetta leads the team with just eight. Forget their power woes, starting pitcher Jason Marquis is having a great year. He's got seven wins already and his 3.93 ERA is more than a half run better than his 4.52 career mark.

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