News from around the Central:
- Two months into the 2011 season, Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter is sitting on a 1-5 record and 4.38 ERA, and St. Louis is 2-9 in games that Carpenter has started. But B.J. Rains of Fox Sports Midwest says that Cards' fans shouldn't be concerned.
- Astute observers noticed that right-hander Sam LeCure didn't make an appearance as Carlos Fisher slogged through the final frames of the Reds' 19-inning loss to the Phillies on Wednesday night / Thursday morning. The reason: LeCure, who pitched 3.1 innings himself on Sunday, was bugged by a sore forearm and couldn't get loose in the 'pen.
- Pittsburgh's offense has scuffled in the last week, as the Bucs have been shut out twice and went 22 innings without scoring a run. Skipper Clint Hurdle responded by shuffling the batting order in Wednesday's loss to the Braves, moving Andrew McCutchen out of the leadoff spot.
- As you'll read below, Carlos Zambrano had a big day for the Cubs on the mound and at the plate in the Baby Bears' 9-3 win over New York. But after pitching on a frigid Chicago afternoon, Big Z headed to the doctor to have a "stiff neck" examined. The Cubs' rotation has been ravaged by injury this year, and, so far, they're insisting that Big Z's situation is nothing serious.
- Houston claimed right-hander Blake King off waivers from St. Louis and assigned him to AA Corpus Christi. King is sporting an 11.30 ERA in 17 relief appearances on the year, having split time between AA Springfield and AAA Memphis in the St. Louis system.
- On the heels of a nineteen-inning marathon that shredded the bullpen, the last thing Cincinnati needed in the finale of its four-game set in Philly was a short start from Homer Bailey. But that's exactly what the Reds got when Bailey had to exit the game with tightness in his shoulder after four innings, and the Phillies clobbered a woefully-overmatched Daryl Thompson -- three innings, six hits, five walks, five earned runs -- and ran away with a 10-4 win. Cliff Lee wasn't especially sharp for Philadelphia -- ten hits, one walk, four earned runs -- but his eight innings provided a sip of cool water to a parched bullpen, and Lee drove in three runs on the day to help his own cause.
- Mets starter R.A. Dickey also had his day cut short by injury, leaving in the third inning because of pain in his heel after he stumbled off the mound attempting to cover first base on a Kosuke Fukudome grounder. Chicago took advantage of Dickey's absence in a big way, scoring four runs in the fourth off reliever Pedro Beato (1.1 IP, four hits, two walks, four runs, three earned) en route to an easy 9-3 win. Carlos Zambrano did a little bit of everything in the win: he pitched six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk and went 3-3 at the dish, driving in a run and scoring one, too.
- Everybody else -- St. Louis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Houston -- was idle.
On tap for tonight:
- The Cardinals continue their NL West swing with a trip to Denver and a three-game series against the Rockies that starts at 7:40 p.m. CDT tonight. The Cardinals send Jake Westbrook (4-3, 5.17) to the bump and the Rockies counter with the still-winless Ubaldo Jimenez (0-4, 5.44).
- The Reds travel to Atlanta to finish their Road Trip of Doom with a 6:35 p.m. CDT start at Turner Field. Mike Leake's (3-2, 5.70) been summoned from AAA to make the start, and he'll face Tommy Hanson (5-3, 2.72).
- The Cubs welcome the Pirates to town for a three-game series that kicks off at 1:20 p.m. CDT this afternoon. Scheduled to start: for Chicago, former Brewer Doug Davis (0-2, 8.31), who's been just as awful as we remember him; for the Pirates, Kevin Correia (6-4, 3.84).
- Houston hosts the Diamondbacks at Minute Maid Park, with game one scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT. Brett Myers (1-4, 5.00) gets the call for the Astros, while Arizona starts Daniel Hudson (5-5, 3.82).