Programming note: The thunderstorms that roared through Wisconsin last night claimed KL's Internet connection as a victim, and, though we've got four technicians working on the issue (they're working in shifts), it's uncertain if there will be a Mug this morning. Adjust your commenting accordingly.
News and notes from around the Central:
- Cardinal center-fielder Colby Rasmus is mired in a hideous slump -- he's hit .188 in his last 36 games and his season averages have plummeted to .246/.329/.413 -- and he's turned to his dad to help fix the holes in his swing. Tony LaRussa says he's OK with Rasmus seeking help outside the organization, but then again: LaRussa says a lot of things that aren't true.
- Bucs starter Kevin Correia has been a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season, compiling 11 wins and a 3.65 ERA, and he got a pleasant surprise of his own when he was named to the NL All-Star team on Sunday. Correia replaced Phillies starter Cole Hamels, who pitched on Sunday and is therefore ineligible to pitch on Tuesday.
- Former Brewer Francisco Cordero blew his second save in three days against his former mates, and CoCo has now gagged away his last three save opportunities as the Reds fell to two games under .500 at the break. Cordero is taking the blame for the team's skid, telling reporters after yesterday's game: "My team is fighting. We were playing against first-place team. They're doing a good job. I came in the last four games and blew three saves."
- When Phillies third-baseman Placido Polanco was scratched from the All-Star team because of a sore back, Cubs third-baseman Aramis Ramirez got an unexpected invite to join the NL squad. Ramirez declined the invitation, though, because he'd already made plans to spend time with his family in the Dominican Republic.
- Astros skipper Brad Mills turned to Brian Bogusevic, who started for Carlos Lee, and Matt Downs, who took over at second base for Jeff Keppinger, to try to spark Houston's flagging offense yesterday. Perhaps predictably: it didn't work, and Houston got swept out of town by Florida.
- The Cardinals maintained a share of first place with a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium. The scoring was over early in this one: St. Louis plated two runs in the first inning on a Matt Holliday single and a David Freese sac fly, Arizona answered with two in the second on a Ryan Roberts homer, and St. Louis got two more in the third on a two-run shot by Freese that accounted for the final margin. Jaime Garcia picked up his ninth win, working six innings and scattering seven hits and a couple of walks while striking out five and giving up the homer to Roberts. Fernando Salas worked around a two-out single to notch his 16th save on the year.
- The Crew rallied for its third one-run win over the Reds in four games and its second walkoff win in the last three days, as Craig Counsell brought home George Kottaras with the winning run and Milwaukee handed Cincinnati closer CoCo Cordero his third loss of the season with a 4-3 win at Miller Park. Our recap is here.
- The Cubs are awful, you guys. Like, almost incomprehensibly awful for a team that's got a payroll of $130 million. Chicago fell to 18 games under .500 by sleepwalking through a 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon at PNC Park. Paul Maholm was excellent for the Bucs, working 7.2 innings and holding the moribund Cubs in check on four hits while striking out eight. Ramon Ortiz, meanwhile, was Ramon Ortiz: the Bucs got to the ancient right-hander for a run in the first inning, then put the game out of reach with a four-run third fueled by a three-run tater from All-Star Andrew McCutchen. Pittsburgh heads into the break a game out of first place.
- Houston limped into the break with a 5-4 loss to the Marlins in Miami. Wandy Rodriguez ran into trouble in the third and then blew up in the fourth, giving up four runs on a Mike Cameron two-run homer, an Omar Infante sac fly, and a Gaby Sanchez double. The Astros tried to rally, pulling within one on Hunter Pence's 11th homer in the top of the eighth, but Houston couldn't get over the hump, going down meekly in the ninth on two pop outs and a fly out.
On tap for tonight: the Home Run Derby, which features Milwaukee's own Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks and NL Central-mate Matt Holliday.