The St. Louis Cardinals are on a three-game winning streak, but have won just five of their last 10. Needless to say, the Cardinals aren’t gaining ground on the Division-leading Reds.
Cincinnati has won eight of 10 and hold a 2.5 game lead over the Red Birds.
The Reds need to make the most of a weekend series at home versus the Cubs and closing out the month of August versus the Brewers.
Both Joey Votto and Albert Pujols are doing their part for their respective ball clubs. Both are Triple Crown candidate in the top three for batting average (Votto .323; Pujols .319), home runs (Pujols 33, Votto 29) and RBIs (Pujols 92, Votto 86).
Elsewhere in the Division, the Cubs were surprised to find out manager Lou Piniella would be leaving sooner than expected. He announced his retirement effective Sunday. Chicago sent off its manager with a 16-5 loss to the Braves.
The Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell appeared to be a suitable candidate to replace Sweet Lou, but general manager Jim Hendry announced Trammell was not in the running to take over as full-time manager and put Mike Quade at the helm on an interim basis. The move to eliminate Trammell from consideration makes it likely Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, currently managing AAA Iowa, will be the next Chicago Cubs manager.
Other candidates include Quade, Bob Brenley, Joe Girardi and Joe Torre.
San Diego had the best week in the NL West and increased its lead over San Francisco to 5.5 games. The Padres have a great opportunity to increase its lead with an upcoming series versus last-place Arizona.
The Giants on the other hand saw a second consecutive mediocre start from Tim Lincecum and have lost six of their last 10. Tiny Tim is still third in the NL with 173 strikeouts, but has dropped out of the top five in virtually all other pitching categories. He has been a mainstay among the leaders all season.
San Francisco Andres Torres is currently second in the National League with 39 doubles. However, the Giants need more consistent performance up and down the lineup with they wish to keep pace with the Padres or overtake Philadelphia for the Wild Card, of which San Fran currently sits a game back.
Atlanta has the fewest losses at home with 17 – that’s five less than the next closest team. Tim Hudson is among the NL’s best pitchers, sporting a 14-5 record, 2.28 ERA in 177.2 innings pitched. Billy Wagner has saved 30 of Atlanta’s 73 wins in 37 opportunities.
The Phillies still trail the Braves by 2.5 games, but have assumed the lead in the Wild Card race, one game ahead of San Francisco. Roy Halladay is third in the league with 16 wins and boasts the second best ERA at 2.16.
The East – like the other NL divisions – is a two-team race with third place Marlins and fourth place Mets 10 games or more back of Atlanta.
San Diego – Consistency is key, Giants take note
Atlanta – Prado picked up where he left off when he returned from the DL
Cincinnati – Has the upper-hand in the Central with their upcoming schedule
Philadelphia – In good shape, and Ryan Howard has traditionally been a good finisher
St. Louis – Just one game out of the Wild Card, but are still thinking Division title