News from around the Central:
- Cincinnati's Joey Votto will be presented with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's Tip O'Neill Award before the Reds' game with the Marlins on Saturday. The Award, according to the CBHOF, is given to the player "judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals," and comes with a twelve-pack of room-temperature Molson.
- Things have gone from bad to worse for Cubs' right-hander Ryan Dempster, who couldn't get out of the first inning in last night's game vs. Arizona (more on that below) and saw his ERA balloon to a Quevedo-ian 9.58 on the young season. How's that long-term contract looking now, Chicago?
- Shoddy defense continues to be the name of the game in Pittsburgh: two days after kicking away in the tenth inning thanks to a trio of miscues in the field, the Pirates committed four more errors in losing to the Giants.
- The Astros activated infielder Clint Barmes from the 15-day disabled list and cleared a spot on the 25-man roster by designating former Brewer Joe Inglett for assignment. Despite a hot start by Angel Sanchez, Barmes is expected to take over the starting shortstop role immediately.
- St. Louis has been snakebitten by injuries to key players in 2011, and that includes outfielder Matt Holliday, who was shut down for a week because of an appendicitis. But Holliday's been no worse for wear since returning: he's hitting .433 on the season with a 1.214 OPS as the Redbirds have used a powerful offense to reach the top of the Central.
Last night's action:
- It was a ho-hum affair in the series finale for St. Louis and Houston for five innings last night, with the Astros leading 4-2 after plating a run in the fifth. Then things got crazy, as the Cardinals sent fourteen batters to the plate in the top of sixth and tallied nine runs in the frame. Lance Berkman finished his homecoming with a flourish, hitting two homers (including a grand slam in the sixth) and driving in five runs as the Cards romped to an 11-7 win.
- Cincinnati and Milwaukee had the day off.
- Spot starter Ryan Vogelsong came up big for the Giants in the finale of their three-game set in Pittsburgh, pitching 5 2/3 innings of four-hit ball and striking out eight as San Francisco took the series with a 5-2 win. The Giants scored all the runs they needed in a four-run third inning, and Aaron Rowand was at the center of the damage: he doubled in two runs and scored from third on a double steal.
- Here's how Ryan Dempster's night went: double, walk, hit by pinch, grand slam, ground out, walk, walk, walk, single, single. If you're scoring at home, that's seven runs on four hits and four walks plus an HBP in 1/3 of an inning, and, as you'd imagine, Arizona coasted to an 11-2 win over Chicago in Phoenix.
- St. Louis continues its road trip with a three-game swing through Atlanta. In tonight's matchup (6:35 p.m. CDT), the Cardinals send Chris Carpenter (0-2, 3.90) to the mound to face the Braves' Tim Hudson (3-2, 3.57).
- After a brief hiatus, the Brewers and Astros renew hostilities in a three-game series at Minute Maid Park, with game one scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. CDT. Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum (2-1, 2.73) and Houston's Brett Myers (1-0, 3.31) face off for the second time in a week.
- Cincinnati returns home after a six-game road trip to host Florida. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CDT, with lefty Travis Wood (1-2, 5.40) starting for the Reds and Javier Vazquez (1-2, 6.52) on the bump for the Marlins.
- Pittsburgh is on the road at Colorado for a 7:40 p.m. CDT game at Coors Field. The Pirates' Kevin Correia (3-2, 3.48) is opposed by Jhoulys Chacin (3-1, 2.67), whose last scheduled start was rained out on Wednesday in Chicago.
- The Cubs and Diamondbacks play game two of their four-game series at 8:40 p.m. CDT in Phoenix, as Chicago's Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 5.28) takes on Arizona's Armando Galarraga (3-1, 6.00).