No real surprise the Cardinals are atop the central division. They’ll be there all year. St. Louis was involved in the second-most notable game of the week when they battled for 20 innings with the New York Mets. The Cardinals lost 2-1 in 20. Albert Pujols is off to a hot start with five home runs and .327 average.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are still sitting a game back of the Cards after sweeping Cincinnati over the weekend.
Chicago and Milwaukee could each be in for a long season after the way their bullpens have performed through two weeks of play. The Astros look bad, but they did win their weekend series against the Cubs.
The Phillies look good early on with Ryan Howard – three homers, .309 avg., .600 slugging – and Chase Hutley - .341 avg. six home runs – performing well. High-profile offseason acquisition Roy Hallady is off to a 3-0 start with a 1.13 ERA and 21 strikeouts.
Elsewhere in the division, Florida has played well. Atlanta has a winning record, but was no-hit by Colorado (see NL West). Washington is playing .500 ball, but Jason Marquis got hammered by the Brewers and did not finish the first inning. Marquis has a 20.52 ERA after three starts.
The performance of the week was Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez throwing a no-hitter to beat the Braves Saturday. Jimenez, who threw the franchise’s first no-no, had six walks on the game. He adjusted and pitched out of the stretch exclusively from the fifth inning on. After that, he did not have another walk. Jimenez, 26, finished the game with seven strike outs.
The Giants are leading the division. They swept the Pirates to open the season, and won their first four games of the year. San Francisco lost its weekend series with the Dodgers. No reason to hit the panic button, but if Frisco wants to win the division, they will need to win the season series against L.A.
TOP FIVE NL TEAMS APRIL 20:
St. Louis Cardinals – One name Albert Pujols. Two other names Adam Wainwright (3-0, 1.50 ERA) and Chris Carpenter (2-0, 3.50 ERA).
Philadelphia Phillies – Roy Halladay looks to be fitting in nicely and Cole Hamels in the second spot of the rotation is scary. Plenty of offensive power too.
Florida Marlins – Won series against Mets, Dodgers and Phillies. Nate Robinson and Ricky Nolasco pitching well and Leo Nunez has three saves.
San Francisco Giants – Playing good ball and can get fat against San Diego during three-game set. Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito throwing well. Just wait for Matt Cain to join in. The offense is showing some unexpected power at the plate too.
Colorado Rockies – No one has more than three home runs, but the team hits a lot of extra base hits, creating opportunity. Carlos Gonzalez off to good start with .368 avg. Plenty of talent up and down the lineup.