News from around the Central:
- A day after walking four of the five batters he faced in the ninth inning, Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman landed on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his left (throwing) shoulder. It seems this is something of a wink, wink DL move, as the Reds expressed concern over how Chapman would handle a demotion to AAA to work out his command issues.
- Yea, look upon Him, and know that he can play third base: with injuries mounting in the infield, and Lance Berkman threatening to turn to stone in right field, the Cardinals started Albert Pujols at third base last night. It was Pujols' first start at third base since the 2002 NLCS, and the results were OK: he cleanly fielded three chances and went to his knees to take away a hit from Ben Francisco in the Cards' 3-1 win over Philly.
- For the first time since 2002, the Pirates have the top pick in the annual June amateur draft. Who Pittsburgh will tab with that selection, though, is anyone's guess at this point.
- As expected, the Cubs sent slumping utilityman Tyler Colvin to AAA Iowa to work out the kinks in his swing. On the injury front: the news wasn't encouraging for righty Andrew Cashner, who felt tightness in his injured shoulder while warming up for a start in extended spring training and is now scheduled to undergo an MRI.
- Jim Crane has made three failed attempts to buy a major league franchise. The fourth time was the charm for the Houston businessman, though, as a group led by Crane has agreed to purchase the Houston Astros for $680 million, the second-highest purchase price for a team in MLB history.
- Chicago was living fat and happy through five-and-a-half innings in Cincinnati: the offense scrapped together four runs, capitalizing on a Scott Rolen error and a Carlos Pena homer, and Carlos Zambrano held the Reds scoreless through five frames. But Big Z turned into the Big Zeppelin in the bottom of the sixth, Hindenburg-ing his way to a seven-run debacle as the Reds took a 7-4 win. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Rolen all drove in a run in the rally, and Johnny Gomes greeted reliever Marcos Mateo with a two-run shot to put this one out of reach.
- St. Louis took advantage of some uncharacteristic wildness from lefty Cliff Lee, who issued a career-high six walks, in a 3-1 win over Philadelphia. Nick Punto, Ryan Theriot, and Jon Jay all had run-scoring singles, and Jake Westbrook threw seven strong innings -- four hits, one run, three walks -- as St. Louis kept pace with the Reds in the division.
- Hey, remember when the Pirates were sitting at a game over .500? That's quickly becoming a distant memory, as Pittsburgh lost its sixth straight game, 4-2, in Washington to the Nationals. With the game knotted at 2 in the bottom of the seventh, Nats second baseman Danny Espinosa clubbed a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Jose Ascanio. The Pirates, as they've been wont to do under new manager Clint Hurdle, ran themselves out of an inning in the top of the fourth: Brandon Wood was thrown out trying to take third on a Chris Snyder single, and, later in the inning, Snyder was cut down at the plate on a failed suicide squeeze.
- Houston fell to the Braves, 3-2, in Atlanta. Brett Myers once again got cuffed around the park -- eight hits and three walks in six innings -- but he danced out of danger and only surrendered two runs. The Braves scored the winning run on an Eric Hinske single in the bottom of the seventh. Third baseman Matt Downs drove in both 'Stros' runs with a homer and a double.
Your updated standings for May 17:
On tap for tonight:
- The Reds and Cubs finish up their two-game series at 6:10 p.m. CDT tonight. Chicago starts righty Matt Garza (2-4, 4.17) and the Reds counter with ace Edinson Volquez (3-1, 5.74).
- St. Louis and Philly have a 7:15 p.m. CDT start from Busch Stadium. The task doesn't get any easier for the Cards: tonight they face Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.33), but the Phils will probably have their hands full, too: Jaime Garcia (5-0, 1.89) starts for the Redbirds.
- The Pirates and Nationals play a matinee game at 12:05 p.m. CDT in D.C. Pittsburgh starts Charlie Morton (4-1, 3.13) and the Nats counter with Jordan Zimmermann (2-4, 4.13).
- Houston takes on Atlanta at Turner Field at 12:05 p.m. CDT today. Wandy Rodriguez (2-3, 3.98) gets the ball for the Astros and the Braves start Derek Lowe (3-3, 3.73).