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Around the NL Central: April 28 Edition

News from around the Central:

  • Dave Allen of FanGraphs takes a look at Matt Garza's early returns for the Cubs and notes that Garza has been a completely different pitcher this year: during his time in Tampa, Garza threw his fastball more than 70% of the time.  In his first few starts in Chicago, Garza is throwing his fastball on a little more than 50% of his pitches.
  • Former Brewer Carlos Lee has been mired in a month-long slump for the Astros that has fans calling for El Caballo to be dropped in the batting order, but Lee's putting in overtime in the cage to try to work through his issues.
  • Pittsburgh's top pick in last year's amateur draft, right-hander Jameson Taillon, pitched for the first time as a professional last night in a rain-shortened, two-inning stint for the Pirates Single-A affiliate in West Virginia. Taillon walked fellow 2010 draftee Bryce Harper and gave up a run-scoring double before his night was cut short by the weather.
  • Cincinnati right-hander Johnny Cueto made his third rehab start on Tuesday night, leading AAA Louisville to an 8-3 win over Durham.  Cueto threw 55 strikes in 83 pitches, gave up three hits and struck out three.  Cueto will probably make one final rehab start before returning to the Reds' rotation.
  • It's a revolving door for the Cardinals in the closer department: Ryan Franklin has already lost his job, Mitchell Boggs gacked away a one-run lead on Tuesday night in spectacular fashion, and, as you'll see below, Eduardo Sanchez nearly did the same after being handed a three-run lead last night.

Last night's action:

  • St. Louis celebrated Albert Pujols' return to the starting lineup with a 6-5 decision over Houston.  Pujols was 1-4 on the night with a single and a run driven in, and Matt Holliday clubbed his third homer of the year and drove in two runs.  Kyle Lohse pitched seven strong innings and lowered his ERA to 1.64 for the year, but the Cards had to survive another wild night from their bullpen: demoted closer Ryan Franklin gave up two runs without recording an out in the eighth and saw his ERA balloon to 10.13, and Eduardo Sanchez gave up another two in the ninth before he was able to strand the tying run on second base.
  • Cincinnati raced out to an early 4-0 lead over a suddenly-ordinary Yovani Gallardo, but the Brewers wouldn't quit and twice rallied to tie the score against the Reds.  In the end, a tenth-inning homer from Drew Stubbs proved to be the difference as the Reds grabbed a 7-6 victory over Milwaukee and a 2-1 series win.
  • Mother Nature apparently didn't take kindly to Cryin' Mike Quade's complaining about the effect the weather had on Starlin Castro's fielding because she opened the heavens on the North Side, washing out Chicago's game against the Rockies.
  • Pittsburgh starter James McDonald pitched into the seventh inning, scattering four hits and surviving four walks as the Pirates blanked San Francisco, 2-0.  Four Pirate relievers picked up the slack after McDonald departed with nobody out in the seventh, and Joel Hanrahan worked around a hit and a walk to pick up his seventh save.
Your updated standings for April 28:

W L GB Last 10 Streak
Cardinals 13 11 -- 6-4 W1
Reds 13 12 0.5 4-6 W1
Brewers 12 12 1.0 5-5 L1
Pirates 11 13 2.0 5-5 W1
Cubs 10 13 2.5 4-6 L3
Astros 9 15 3.0 5-5 L1

On tap for tonight:
  • St. Louis and Houston wrap up their three-game series with a 7:05 p.m. CDT contest at Minute Maid Park. The Cards send Kyle McClellan (3-0, 2.16) to the mound, while the 'Stros start former Brewer Nelson Figueroa (0-3, 8.55).
  • Pittsburgh and San Francisco also conclude their three-game set with an early 11:35 a.m. CDT game at PNC Park.  Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 0.00) takes the ball for the Giants and Jeff Karstens (2-0, 3.94) is scheduled to throw at, around, and near the plate for the Pirates.
  • The Cubs travel to Phoenix to begin a four-game series against the Diamondbacks.  Chicago's Ryan Dempster (1-2, 7.63) matches up against Arizona's Barry Enright (0-2, 6.65).
  • Cincinnati and Milwaukee have the day off.