News and notes from around the Central:
- In case you missed the news yesterday: before the Cards' loss to the Mets yesterday afternoon, St. Louis agreed to a one-year contract extension with outfielder/puma Lance Berkman, who will return to St. Louis in 2012 for a cool $12 million.
- Injured Reds third baseman Scott Rolen had hoped to test in his surgically-repaired left shoulder in game action before the end of the season, but Rolen was shut down on Wednesday and ordered not to do any baseball-related activity for a month.
- The Pirates and Braves completed the PTBNL portion of the trade that sent utilityman Matt Diaz to Atlanta in August: the Bucs received minor-league pitcher Eliecer Cardenas, who was 4-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 45 games this season, from the Braves.
- Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has already made clear that he's played his last game in a Cub uniform, and, at ESPNChicago, Bruce Levine says it's likely that other veterans will follow Ramirez out of town this offseason.
- When the Twins broke an 11-game losing streak by winning their 60th game of the year on Thursday, the Astros clinched the worst record in MLB and, as a result, Houston will have the first pick in the 2012 first-year player draft next June.
- Losses don't get much worse than St. Louis's defeat at the hands of the Mets yesterday: leading 6-2 in the top of the ninth against a Mets team that appeared more concerned with the in-flight meal than playing a baseball game, the Cardinals bullpen imploded in spectacular fashion, giving up six runs and costing the Cards a half-game in the standings in an 8-6 loss. The ninth-inning nonsense started when Jason Motte walked Willie Harris, and Rafael Furcal compounded the issue by booting a double-play ball from Nick Evans. Motte got Josh Thole to fly out, but then walked the next two hitters to force in a run. That ended Motte's day, but Marc Rzepczynski couldn't stop the bleeding: Jose Reyes fisted a broken-bat single to right field to plate a run, and Ruben Tejada tied it up with a laser-beam double to left. Fernando Salas struck out David Wright to briefly restore sanity to the proceedings, but Harris made the most of his second at-bat of the inning by ripping a two-run single to right to give the Mets the lead and, eventually, the win.
- Houston roughed up Rockies starter Alex White, plating five earned runs in White's 4.2 innings, and then laid the wood to the Colorado bullpen, scoring three runs against Josh Roenicke and another against Jim Miller en route to a 9-6 win at Minute Maid Park. Clint Barmes had an RBI double and Jordan Schafer drove in a run with a sac fly, but the Astros did the lion's share of their damage thanks to a pair of bases-loaded doubles: Carlos Lee's two-bagger in the fifth plated three runs, and Matt Downs' double in the seventh cleared the bases, too. Henry Sosa picked up his third win by scattering nine hits in 6.1 innings, giving up three runs while striking out four.
Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Chicago all had the day off.
Your updated NL Central standings for September 23:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
On tap for today:
- The Crew welcomes the Fish to town for a three-game set that kicks off at 7:10 p.m. CDT. Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.60) faces Chris Volstad (5-12, 5.13) in game one.
- The Cardinals host the Cubs in a three-game series that begins at 7:15 p.m. CDT, when Chris Carpenter (10-9, 3.66) battles Ryan Dempster (10-13, 4.63).
- The Reds and Pirates start a three-game series at PNC Park at 6:05 p.m. CDT. Edinson Volquez (5-6, 5.87) takes on Jeff Locke (0-2, 6.75) in the opener.
- The Astros and Rockies are back in action at 7:05 p.m. CDT at Minute Maid Park. Brett Myers (6-13, 4.39) takes on Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 1.69) in this one.