August is nearly half over, which means we only have about six weeks left in this season. Now is not the time to deal with injuries. This is the stretch where you need to get healthy, and do it fast.
September call-ups aren't here yet, so as teams struggle to find ways to compete
and win with key players on the DL, the next two weeks become arguably a more
important stretch than even the first few weeks in September when rosters
expand. Here's the latest and greatest from around the National
Phillies (64-48) – With Pedro Martinez making his debut start for the
Phils, that World Champion killer lineup made sure to make the veteran pitcher
and three-time Cy Young Award winner comfortable on the mound. The Phils opened
up a 12-1 lead through the first four frames against the Cubs Wednesday night,
cruise to that first win while back in the saddle. No surprise here, but his
debut did not arrive without drama. Jamie Moyer was demoted to the
bullpen to make room in the rotation for Martinez, and the ageless wonder, who currently
leads the staff in wins with 10 was not very happy about his new
Marlins (60-54) – After getting swept by Washington (yes, Washington), the
Marlins bounced right back with a five-game winning streak that started with a
three-game sweep of the Phillies on the road. Talk about up and down. Reliever
Brian Sanches was charged with a blown save against the Nationals but
bounced back to earn two wins and a hold in his next three appearances. In 29
games, Sanches has thrown 33.2 innings and boasts a mighty impressive 1.07 ERA.
Hanley Ramirez, who had just one RBI in that series against Washington, has poured it
on since then, driving home nine in his last five games.
Braves (60-54) – Still very much in the hunt, the Braves aren't going away. Good
pitching will do that for a team. Atlanta has won seven of their last eight
games, including a three-game sweep against the Dodgers this past weekend.
Javier Vazquez has won five straight decisions, and the Braves haven't
lost the last seven times he has taken the mound. He leads the team with 155.1
innings pitched and a 2.90 ERA. Garret Anderson continues to be a bit of
a disappointment, but on Wednesday he did connect for his first home run in
Mets (53-61) – Double-digit games behind the Phillies, the hits keep rolling for
the Mets. Carlos Delgado's battle back from hip surgery hit another bump
in the road as the star first baseman has been diagnosed now with a strained
oblique. To date, the Mets top home run producer remains Gary Sheffield
with just 10. This has just not been the season Mets fans were
Nationals (40-74) – Perhaps inspired to turn the page, the Nationals haven't
been a pushover as of late. Washington won
eight straight games, including sweeps of Florida and Arizona, before dropping their last two
against an equally hot Braves team. At the beginning of the stretch, Mike MacDougal saved five of six games, including earning saves on four
consecutive days. With four blasts in the last nine games, Adam Dunn has
30 home runs on the year and is on pace for another 40-home-run season. What's
most impressive is that his .281 batting average is 31 points above his career
Cardinals (64-52) – The Redbirds have been beating up on the likes of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati this week, as they would be expected
to. The result is that they have opened up a four-and-a-half game lead on the
Cubs in the standings. Chris Carpenter is, without a doubt, back to his
old self. He has won his last seven decisions, has a 2.27 ERA, and has pitched
at least 7.0 innings in all but one of his last eight starts. Adam Wainwright is 5-2 in his last
eight starts, but he has given up just eight earned runs in those games and has
racked up 61.0 innings during that span. Meanwhile, Albert Pujols has
four home runs and 10 RBI in his last eight games. His 102 RBI now gives him
100+ RBI in his first nine seasons in the bigs. His reward? A showdown with
Shaquille O'Neal in a baseball skills competition.
Cubs (58-55) – Up. Down. Up. Back down. The Cubs are sliding again, losing five
straight to Colorado and Philadelphia having given
up 44 runs to their opponents. The club remains without a single 10-game winner
in their rotation in part thanks to injuries. Carlos Zambrano went back
on the DL with back spasms, and Jeff Samardzija, who got his first start
Wednesday, was roughed up by Philly as he got to watch a seasoned pro like Pedro
work the mound. Two bright spots have been the young bats of Jake Fox and
Jeff Baker. Fox has eight home runs and 30 RBI in 131 at-bats, while
Baker is batting .309 in 55 at-bats.
Astros (56-58) – Seven games back, but still very much in the hunt, Houston just got a lot
healthier. Both Lance Berkman and LaTroy Hawkins came off the DL
this past week. Hunter Pence got so excited about their presence, he went
out and cranked two home runs and had six RBI Wednesday night. Meanwhile,
Wandy Rodriguez earned win number 11 on Sunday with 7.0 shutout innings
against the Brewers.
Brewers (56-58) – The fire in the Brewers following Prince Fielder's trip to the
Dodgers clubhouse has faded a bit. The Brew Crew have dropped four of their last
five games. Yovani Gallardo has lost two straight and five of his last
seven decisions. Braden Looper, who was on fire for a long while, has
also fizzled. The Brewers have won just once in his last four starts, and in
those three team losses, Looper gave up at least five runs in each
Reds (49-64) – Seemingly a serious contender at the All-Star break, the Reds are
now 15 games under .500. Brandon Phillips has the best team batting
average that qualifies with enough at-bats, and he's hitting just .264.
Johnny Cueto leads the starters in ERA, but his 4.23 is nothing to get
excited about. And Bronson Arroyo's 10 wins might seem decent, but he's
2-6 in his last nine starts.
Pirates (46-68) – It's tough to find familiar names on the Pittsburgh roster these
days. Evan Meek, an up-and-coming young relief pitcher, was starting to
get noticed, but he landed on the DL this week with a strained oblique muscle.
With just 46 wins, though, on the season, and a Washington team that has garnered some energy
for a late competitive push, the Pirates might find themselves in the NL cellar
before too long.
Dodgers (69-46) – Matt Kemp has only hit an RBI in four games this month,
but he has 16 RBI in those four games. Not coincidentally, the Dodgers have only
won one game where Kempf hasn't had an RBI. And though, it probably shouldn't be
much of a surprise, Jason Schmidt landed back on the DL with shoulder
soreness. Schmidt was 2-2 in four starts this season with a 5.60 ERA. He's only
made 10 starts since the 2006 season.
Rockies (64-51) – Huston Street is no doubt a huge reason behind why the
Rockies are contending this year. He has 28
saves in 29 opportunities and a 3-1 record, but thanks to some big Rockies wins he hasn't been given a chance to save a game
since August 2nd. Todd Helton meanwhile continues to have a
great comeback year. With five consecutive multi-hit games this past week, his
batting average is back up to .327.
Giants (62-52) – Tim Lincecum hasn't earned a decision in his last two
starts, but he did break the 200-strikeout barrier for the second consecutive
season. With seven strikeouts in each of his last two starts Lincecum now has
205 totals punchouts this season to go with his 12-3 record and 2.19 ERA.
Offseason pickup Juan Uribe was the hero of the day Wednesday as he
blasted a game-winning two-run homer in the ninth inning to avoid a sweep
against the Dodgers.
Diamondbacks (52-63) – Justin Upton joined the popular ranks of players
on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. But that hasn't cooled
Mark Reynolds down. If you haven't noticed, and based on the D'Backs
performance of late, there's a chance you haven't, Reynolds has been crushing
the ball. Left off the All-Star roster, the free-swinging infielder has 36 home
runs on the season. He has 11 home runs and 17 RBI in just the past 16
Diego Padres (49-67) – The Padres are 11-4 over the course of their last 15
games. And they've been scoring a lot of runs. Adrian Gonzalez has four
RBI in just his last two games, and on Tuesday he had a perfect 6-for-6 night at
the plate. In that one game alone he boosted his batting average from .251 to
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