News and notes from around the Central:
- Just before he was about to take his turn at the dish in the top of the ninth inning of yesterday's 6-4 win over Pittsburgh, Cardinals leftfielder Matt Holliday was removed from the game because of pain in his right hand. The discomfort prevented Holliday from swinging the bat, and he's apparently heading back to St. Louis to have the injury examined.
- Cincinnati starter Mike Leake knew that yesterday's start represented his final innings for the 2011 season, and, as you'll read below, the young right-hander made the most of it with eight strong innings in a win over the Cubs.
- In today's Awful Umpiring note: Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle got run from last night's game after third base umpire Sam Holbrook incorrectly ruled that Pedro Ciriaco had left third base too soon on a sac fly in the fifth inning. Hurdle came out to argue as soon as Holbrook made the call, then returned to the dugout to review a replay, which showed that Ciriaco had not, in fact, left early. When Hurdle came back on the field in the middle of the sixth to let Holbrook know he'd botched the call, he got the hook.
- There was a lot of scoffing from Cubs fans after Aramis Ramirez told reporters he's not interested in a one-year deal and wants to sign a two- or three-year contract, but at ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine makes the case that if the Cubs can lock Ramirez in for two years at $25 million, they should do it.
- Houston outfielder Jason Michaels broke his left hand making a diving catch in yesterday's win over the Phillies, and he's scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery sometime this morning.
- Ryan Braun ended what he described as his worst game of the year with a flourish, clubbing a leadoff homer in the 11th to send Milwaukee to a 2-1 win over Colorado. Our recap is here.
St. Louis nearly coughed away another win against Pittsburgh, as Chris Carpenter surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the seventh inning to blow a 4-2 lead. But the Cards touched Bucs closer Joel Hanrahan for two runs in the ninth inning to snap the tie; after retiring Yadier Molina to open the ninth, Hanrahan gave up a single to Daniel Descalso and a go-ahead RBI double to Nick Punto. An error by Pedro Ciriaco put runners at the corners, and a single by Jon Jay loaded the bases for Al Pujols, who gave the Cardinals a two-run cushion with a sac fly to right field. The bottom of the ninth got off to a promising start, as Josh Harrison and Pedro Alvarez singled, but Clint Hurdle eliminated any possibility of a rally by ordering Ciriaco to bunt. Molina pounced on the weak attempt and retired the lead runner at third, and Neil Walker hit into a double play to end it.
Cincinnati did its part to avoid elimination, defeating Chicago 2-1 at Great American Ballpark, but the Crew's win over the Rockies eliminated the Reds from the NL Central race. Mike Leake continued his strong run to close the season, pitching eight innings of six-hit ball and holding the Baby Bears to a single run (run-scoring DP off the bat of Alfonso Soriano). But Brandon Phillips' first-inning homer and Edgar Renteria's fifth-inning RBI single provided all the offense Leake and CoCo Cordero needed to turn away the Cubs. Ryan Dempster was something of a hard luck loser, as he held the Reds to two runs over seven innings and struck out eight, but don't cry too hard for him: Dempster made his life difficult with six hits and six walks in his stint.
- Maybe there's something funny in the water in Houston: the Astros clinched the series win against the rampaging Phillies, roughing up Cole Hamels for five runs in five innings and claiming a 5-2 win at Minute Maid Park. The Astros exploded for four runs in the fourth inning after former 'Stro Hunter Pence tied the game at 1 with a solo homer in the top of the inning, with Clint Barmes delivering the knockout blow with a three-run homer off of Hamels. Also worth mentioning: J.A. Happ's rejuvenation tour rolled on, as the lefty worked six effective innings, limiting the Phils to four hits and four walks (one run).
Your updated standings for September 14:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
The Wild Card race looks like this right now:
And here are the playoff participants, if the season ended today:
Braves (Wild Card)
On tap for today:
- The Crew wraps up its quick series with the Rockies at 7:10 p.m. CDT, when Shaun Marcum (12-6, 3.25) faces Kevin Millwood (2-2, 3.79).
- The Cardinals and Pirates conclude their series at 11:35 a.m. CDT at PNC Park. Edwin Jackson (11-9, 3.75) faces Charlie Morton (9-9, 3.81) in the finale.
- The Reds and Cubs play game three of their series at 6:10 p.m. CDT at Great American Ballpark. Johnny Cueto (9-5, 2.36) battles Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.65) in this one.
- The Astros go for the sweep against the Phillies ad;lkfjadks;vgaadfkljadf;jladskl;jdml,; Sorry, passed out there for a second. Anyway, the Astros bring the brooms to Minute Maid Park at 1:05 p.m. CDT, when Bud Norris (6-9, 3.78) gets to tangle with Roy Halladay (17-5, 2.44).