News from around the Central:
- St. Louis demigod Albert Pujols snapped the longest homerless stretch of his career with a homer on Monday, but he wasn't concerned about the power drought -- and, like Jesus lecturing the Pharisees, he chided the media for being too focused on home runs. (An aside: I've learned that when someone says he doesn't care about what media members say or write about him, it's usually right at the top of his list of Things He Cares About.)
- Reds starter Bronson Arroyo returned to Cincinnati for an MRI after surrendering nine runs in less than three innings against the Phillies on Monday, but the exam didn't disclose any serious injuries. Arroyo isn't expected to miss any time.
- There are a number of unsavory characters in the NL Central (although 83% of them are found in St. Louis), but Cryin' Mike Quade seems to be doing all he can to vault himself to the head of the class: with rains pounding down on Wrigley Field last night, umpires made the decision to pull the players off the field with the Mets leading by three after the top of the seventh. You won't believe this, but it's true: Mike Quade wasn't happy about it.
- The schedule is kind of wonky for the Pirates this week: Pittsburgh had the day off Monday and they're off again today after a two-game series with Atlanta. In an effort to keep the Pirate starters pitching on regular rest, skipper Clint Hurdle is bumping Jeff Karstens' next start to Sunday.
- With infielder Jeff Keppinger expected to rejoin the team on Friday, the Astros cleared a roster spot by optioning reserve outfielder Brian Bogusevic to AAA Oklahoma City.
- The late-game heroics took a night off for St. Louis, as the Cards scored a run in the top of the first and then went quietly into the night, dropping the finale of a three-game series in San Diego, 3-1. Chris Carpenter pitched eight innings and allowed three runs (two earned), giving up eight hits while striking out six, but Mat Latos was better: eight IP, six hits, one run, no walks, and seven strikeouts. The Pads plated two runs in the bottom of the eighth off Carpenter with a two-out rally that started with a Jason Bartlett bunt. Chase Headley doubled Bartlett in and former Card Ryan Ludwick singled in Headley to account for the winning margin.
- Cincinnati and Philadelphia played a doubleheader yesterday, but it only counted for one game in the standings: after six hours and eleven minutes of baseball, the Phillies claimed a 5-4, 19-inning victory over the Reds at Citizens Bank Park. Your winning pitcher was Phillies second baseman Wilson Valdez, who moved over to pitch the 19th and turned in a clean frame, though he managed to hit Reds third baseman Scott Rolen with a pitch with one down. Reds reliever Carlos Fisher did yeoman's work for Cincinnati, pitching the last 5+ innings of the game before Raul Ibanez's sac fly scored Jimmy Rollins with the winning run. The game went as long as it did (in part) because Francisco Cordero couldn't nail down the save in the bottom of the 10th, surrendering a leadoff tater to Ryan Howard after Jay Bruce had homered in the top of the tenth.
- With nine hits and two Atlanta errors, Pittsburgh had plenty of chances to steal one from the Braves at PNC Park, but the Bucs couldn't make the most of their opportunities and fell to the Braves, 4-2, in 11 innings. Brooks Conrad hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Jeff Karstens -- the fifth Pirate to pitch on the day -- with one down in the eleventh, and Craig Kimbrel nailed down his second save in as many days with a three-up, three-down bottom of the eleventh.
- While the Reds and Phillies played a whole bunch of extra baseball last night, the game between Chicago and New York was cut short: rains washed out the game in the seventh inning and the Mets claimed a 7-4 victory over the Cubs. It looked like the Cubs might run away with this one early, as the Baby Bears tallied four runs in the bottom of the first off Mets right-hander Dillon Gee. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Casey Coleman brought his gas can to the mound in the top of the second, and when the smoke cleared, the Mets had scored five times and Coleman's day was done after just 1.1 innings. (Editorial comment: please keep Casey Coleman in the rotation for the rest of the season.)
- Houston won its series with Los Angeles in walk-off fashion, as a two-out, J.R. Towles single plated Brett Wallace with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 Astro win. The game-winning single capped a strong night for Towles, who had three hits (including a double) in the game. Aneury Rodriguez turned in a solid six-inning stint, giving up four hits and one run (on a Matt Kemp homer) while striking out five.
It's a very light schedule today for the NL Central:
- After last night's 19-inning affair, I wonder if the Reds just slept in the visitors clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, because Cincinnati concludes its series in Philadelphia at 12:05 p.m. CDT this afternoon. Homer Bailey (3-1, 2.08) gets the start for Cincinnati, while Philly sends Cliff Lee (3-4, 3.88) to the bump.
- The Cubs finish their series with the Mets at 1:20 p.m. CDT at Wrigley Field, with New York's R.A. Dickey (2-5, 4.71) facing Chicago's Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 4.88).
- The Cardinals, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers take the day off.