News from around the Central:
- Hal McCoy provides a couple of nuggets on the Reds: third baseman Scott Rolen will take the day off today for the first time since returning from the disabled list, not that he needs the rest -- he's hitting an even .500 since he came back last Friday. McCoy's also come up with a new nickname for the Uptight Citizens of St. Louis.
- The injury bug claimed three more victims in St. Louis yesterday: first, infielder Nick Punto was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an injured right forearm, and the Cards called up 2007 first-round pick Pete Kozma to take Punto's place. Then, during the Cardinals' 5-1 win over Houston, St. Louis lost outfielder Matt Holliday because of tightness in his quadriceps, and then, a couple innings later, Lance Berkman was lifted from the game after injuring his right wrist diving for a ball.
- Injured Pirates reliever Evan Meek is set to make two more appearances at AAA Indianapolis this upcoming Friday and Saturday, and, if all goes well, he's expected to rejoin the big league club next Tuesday.
- A few forgettable performances in the last week seem to have cranked up the pressure in the Cubs' clubhouse, but Cryin' Mike Quade is doing his best to get his players to relax. On the injury front: right-hander Randy Wells is expected to make a rehab start at AAA Iowa on Sunday.
- As if I wasn't confused enough with two pitchers named 'Rodriguez' on the Astros staff (and, again, my apologies to Aneury and Wandy for constantly mixing them up), Houston summoned right-hander Fernando Rodriguez from AAA Oklahoma City. F. Rodriguez takes the place of struggling lefty Fernando Abad.
- Who put a quarter in Charlie Morton? The young Pirate continued his string of impressive performance to open the 2011 season, as he limited Cincinnati to five hits and two walks while striking out five in a complete game shutout. Morton is now 5-1 with a 2.62 ERA on the year. Pittsburgh got its offense courtesy of a three-run homer by Pedro Alvarez (his second) and a two-run homer by Andrew McCutchen (his eighth), and the Pirates snapped a six-game losing skid with the 5-0 victory.
- Kyle Lohse was almost as good as Morton in St. Louis' 5-1 over Houston last night: Lohse went eight strong, scattering six hits and giving up a single run while striking out three, and he's now 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA on the young season. Pete Kozma drove in a pinch-hit run and Jon Jay drove in two for the Cardinals, who are now just a half-game back of the Reds in the division race.
- The Marlins and Cubs traded runs and the lead several times last night, but Marlon Byrd swung the balance for Chicago with a solo homer off of Edward Mujica in the eighth inning as the Cubs grabbed a 7-5 win in Miami. Cub starter Ryan Dempster was roughed up again, though, surrendering five runs on eight hits and two walks in just five innings as his ERA creeped closer to 7.00 on the year (it's now 6.91).
On tap for today:
- The Reds and Pirates wrap up their two-game set with an early 11:35 a.m. CDT start in Cincinnati. Pittsburgh starts struggling righty James McDonald (2-3, 6.20), while the Reds send the white-hot (in a small sample size) Johnny Cueto (2-0, 0.00) to the bump.
- St. Louis and Houston also finish their two-game series; game time is 12:45 p.m. CDT from Busch Stadium. Lefty J.A. Happ (3-4, 5.4) starts for the 'Stros, and he's opposed by Kyle McClellan (5-1, 3.62).
- Chicago has to play a night game on getaway day, with a 6:10 p.m. game in Miami vs. the Marlins. Casey Coleman, who's been downright dreadful this year (1-3, 7.22) and is only in the rotation because James Russell was somehow worse, takes the ball for the Cubs. The Fish start Chris Volstad (2-2, 5.77).