The Cincinnati Reds lost a weekend series, 2-1, to St. Louis but remain a comfortable six games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central.
Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman as demonstrated his lively arm warranted the hype it got in Spring Training. Coming out of the bullpen, he has dazzled crowds with a fast ball that hits 103 miles per hour.
In the Triple Crown chase, Joey Votto is first in RBIs with 98 and second in average with a .321. He is third with 32 home runs, where Albert Pujols leads with an NL best 35. Pujols is batting .309 (fifth) and has 97 RBIs (second).
The Reds need to survive a four-game series at Colorado – Ubaldo Jimenez beat Cincy in the first game – then they have a much easier schedule, hosting Pittsburg and Arizona before traveling to Houston.
St. Louis, on the other hand, has a four-game weekend series with Atlanta, the team with the best home record in the league. The Cardinals can’t look past a three-game series versus the Brewers. Milwaukee has played the division rival tough all year, splitting the season series, 6-6.
The Padres’ tumbled to a 10-game losing streak before San Diego beat the Dodgers Monday to right the ship. The long week and a half allowed the Giants to re-enter the playoff picture as potential NL West champions.
San Francisco, despite only winning six of its last 10, is now just one game back of the Padres for the Division lead.
Elsewhere in the West Division, Colorado’s Carlos Gomez deserves to be mentioned in the Triple Crown race with Pujols and Votto. Gomez is leading the NL with a .340 batting average by 19 points. He is also fifth with 31 homers and tied for second with 97 RBIs. Jimenez’s win over the Reds bumped him to a league-best 18 victories for the Rockies.
Atlanta’s lead in the NL East is just a half-game. The Braves need the team and players like Tim Hudson (15 wins, 2.30 ERA) to step on an upcoming home stand. The Braves are 49-19 this season at Turner Park and will host St. Louis this weekend followed by the Nationals.
The Phillies, who lead the Wild Card race, have won seven of their last 10. They are submersed in NL East Division games, currently playing a four-game set with the Marlins. They will travel to play the Mets and down to Miami to play Florida again. The Phillies need to take care of business against division opponents, considering they don’t play outside of the NL East the rest of the season.
Cincinnati – Chapman makes this team even tougher
Atlanta – Can hold on to NL East if they keep playing well at home
Philadelphia – Aren’t thinking Wild Card, they want the Division
St. Louis – Cincy is slipping away
San Diego – 10-game losing streak this time of year is a perfect reason to panic Padre fans