The Cincinnati Reds hold a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. However, if the Reds hope to be contenders down the stretch, they need to gap St. Louis as much as possible now. St. Louis pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be returning from the disabled list soon and will give the Cardinals more weapons to chase down Cincy.
Lohse is on schedule to come off the 60-day disabled list in late July. Penny is expected to rejoin the team when he is removed from the 15-day list after the all-star break.
Both the Cardinals and Reds have won six of their last 10, and so has the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have been lifted by their starting pitching, which has delivered 10 quality starts in the Crew’s last 15 games. Starter Yovani Gallardo has improved his ERA to 2.36. Plus outfielder Corey Hart is leading the NL with 18 dingers to go with 60 RBIs.
The Chicago Cubs are imploding. AS they sit in fourth place with a 33-43 record, their season took an ugly turn Friday when Carlos Zambrano went on a tirade in the dugout. Zambrano’s frustration was directed toward first baseman Derek Lee and the two were separated. It was announced Zambrano received an indefinite suspension, and he has since been put on the restricted list. If he returns to the Cubs he will pitch out of the bullpen.
Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter for the Diamondbacks Friday marks the fourth of the year and the second time the Tampa Rays were victimized by another hitless day at the plate.
Jackson’s no-hitter was anything but routine – or as routine as a no-hitter can be. It took the right-hander 149 pitches to complete the feat, and he walked eight Rays in the process.
Nevertheless, Jackson joins Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden (and it deserves mentioning Amrando Galarraga’s near perfect game) as pitchers to throw a no-no this season. Jackson is now 5-6 on the season.
Jimenez is still dominating on the mound for the Rockies. His 14 wins and 1.83 ERA are still tops in the Majors.
Though pitchers have been a hot topic recently for the two teams Colorado and Arizona are fourth and fifth, respectively, in their division. The Rockies’ are battered injuries to Brad Hawpe, Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki, though.
The San Diego Padres, who have won an NL best seven of their last 10, have the top record in the National League at 43-31. The Padres are sitting a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Braves (see below) for the No. 1 record in the NL.
The Padres aren’t a tremendously flashy team, but they are getting the job done. San Diego is the only team in the NL West with a winning record on the road, which has helped them build a four-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. San Diego is getting consistency from the closer role as Heath Bell is now tied for second in the Majors with 21 saves.
The Braves are still the team garnering the most buzz in the National League. Atlanta is a gaudy 27-8 at home!
Atlanta beat Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, 5-0, to move 1.5 games ahead of the Mets. More on Strasburg in a minute. Martin Prado still leads the NL with a .331 batting average
Now that the Braves have gotten past the Nationals; biggest threat, the rest of the series should be a cinch and the division lead should grow with New York playing division rival Florida.
The Mets are playing well, considering Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo are on the DL. They are also without utility player Angel Pagan. As players get healthy, the Mets should improve. Third baseman David Wright does lead the National League with 61 RBIs.
The Nationals’ Strasburg has made a strong case to be an all-star even after just five starts. Strasburg is now 2-2, but has received one run of support over his last three starts. He has a 2.27 ERA and 48 strikeouts. The strikeout mark is two shy of the record for most Ks in a pitcher’s first five starts. It should also be noted his 48 strikeouts have been accompanied by just seven walks, and he boasts a WHIP of 1.01.
Atlanta – 27-8?! Who would want to play at Turner Field – except for the Braves that is.
San Diego – Consistency is the name of the game for the Padres.
New York – Hanging around despite Atlanta’s tear through the league.
Cincinnati – Looks to be for real, but how long will the pitching last, and how long can they hold off St. Louie?
St. Louis – No. 5 by default. After the Cards and Phillies, not much to talk about in the NL.