News and notes from around the Central:
- If the Cardinals are going to win the Wild Card -- and the chances of that happening improved greatly with the Cards' come-from-behind win over the Astros last night -- they'll have to do it without Matt Holliday, who had to leave yesterday's game when his bothersome right hand acted up again. Holliday won't start today, and it's unclear if he'd be available if St. Louis' season goes on.
- As expected, Reds GM Walt Jocketty met with Brandon Phillips' agents in New York to begin discussions on a new long-term contract for the All-Star second baseman. Phillips says he's happy to hear that Jocketty reached out to his reps, but he sounds disappointed that it didn't happen until the end of the season.
- Speaking of potential free agents: Pittsburgh has four players with club options for 2012, but the Bucs aren't expected to exercise those options on Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, and Paul Maholm. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno might be a different story, though, since there's not an heir apparent at short in the Pirates' farm system.
- Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who's scheduled to start Chicago's season-ender in San Diego tonight, has a player option on his contract for 2012 but so far has been non-committal about a return to the North Side next season. Given all the change in Chicago's front office, that's probably the right move.
- Houston left-fielder J.D. Martinez had to skip yesterday's loss to St. Louis after fouling a pitch off his left foot on Monday. Martinez said it was painful to run yesterday, and his prospects of playing in Wednesday's season finale don't sound good.
- If this was the beginning of Prince Fielder's going-away party, what a party it's going to be: Fielder clubbed three homers, the last of which propelled Milwaukee to a 6-4 victory over Pittsburgh at Miller Park. Our recap is here.
- Houston had the Cardinals on the ropes last night, roughing up St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook for five runs in just 2.1 innings and taking a 5-0 lead into the top of the fourth. But these are the Astros, of course, and they've lost 105 times for a reason: Houston completely collapsed in the last six innings of the game, and the Cardinals got a crucial 13-6 win to pull even in the Wild Card race. St. Louis got five runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game, then blew the contest wide open with four in the seventh and three more in the eighth. Allen Craig, who replaced Matt Holliday, was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer and four RBI, and Nick Punto was 4-for-5 with a solo homer and two driven in. The bullpen covered up Westbrook's disaster start with 6.2 innings of four-hit ball.
- It was Rally Tuesday around the Central, as Cincinnati scored one run in the ninth to tie the Mets and then plated another in the 13th to swipe a 5-4 victory over New York at Citi Field. Bronson Arroyo capped his season in style: he worked eight innings, giving up nine hits, four runs and two homers, but he was in line for the loss until Juan Francisco doubled home Dave Sappelt in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 4. The Reds then put on the suicide squeeze in the top of the 13th and it worked to perfection: Drew Stubbs dropped a bunt down the third base line, allowing Francisco to slide home safely with the winning run.
- Trailing 2-1 in the top of the eighth, Chicago got off the mat with five runs (total) in the eighth and ninth innings to take a 6-2 victory over San Diego at Petco Park. Alfonso Soriano delivered the big blow in the eighth inning with a three-run homer, and Blake DeWitt tacked on two more runs with a single in the ninth. The eighth-inning rally made a winner of Matt Garza, who worked seven innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out five. Carlos Marmol recovered from his hiccup in St. Louis over the weekend by fanning two in the ninth inning.
Your updated NL Central standings for September 28:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
On tap for today:
- The Crew and Pirates conclude their series at 7:10 p.m. CDT, when Zack Greinke (15-6, 3.86) faces Jeff Locke (0-2, 4.97).
- The Cardinals and Astros wrap up their series at 7:05 p.m. tonight. Chris Carpenter (10-9, 3.59) takes on Brett Myers (7-13, 4.31) in the finale.
- The Reds and Mets finish out the season at 12:10 p.m. CDT at Citi Field. Edinson Volquez (5-6, 5.84) battles Miguel Batista (4-2, 4.24) in this one.
- The Cubs and Padres are back in action at 7:35 p.m. CDT at Petco Park, when Ryan Dempster (10-13, 4.53) faces Wade LeBlanc (4-6, 4.83).