News from around the Central:
- With Aroldis Chapman sidelined by inflammation in his throwing shoulder / Rick Vaughn-itis, Mike Bray is suddenly the only available lefty in the Reds bullpen. Count your blessings, Cincinnati: one lefty in the 'pen would be an embarrassment of riches in Milwaukee right now.
- Cards skipper / gin hound Tony LaRussa was none too pleased with Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman's recent comments about St. Louis right-hander Chris Carpenter: after Carpenter complained about the condition of the mound and the lingering smoke from the post-homer fireworks in Sunday's loss to the Reds, Brennaman called Carpenter a whiner. LaRussa responded, predictably, by playing the RESPECT card.
- The MRI on the injured shoulder of Cubs right-hander Andrew Cashner showed a recurrence of the rotator cuff strain that's sidelined him for most of the season. It's now back to square one for Cashner, who will restart the rehab routine he began six weeks ago.
- With about 25% of the season under our belts, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook takes a look at the positives -- it's a short list -- and the negatives -- it's a longer list -- for the Buccos.
- With the Astros on pace to lose more than 90 games for the first time in 20 years, ESPN.com's David Schoenfield takes a look at all the things that have gone wrong for Houston in the last few years.
- Once again, Chicago was undone by a big inning, as Cincinnati plated four eighth-inning runs to steal a 7-5 victory over the Baby Bears at Great American Ballpark. This time, though, the Cubs' wounds were self-inflicted. Leading by two in the eighth, Kerry Wood made a hideous error with men on first and second: instead of taking the sure out on a sac bunt attempt, Wood airmailed the throw to third, allowing Scott Rolen and Fred Lewis to score and sending Ryan Hanigan to third base. Cincinnati then took the lead on a sacrifice fly by Chris Heisey and Joey Votto finished the scoring with an RBI double.
- A big error almost came back to bite the Cardinals, but St. Louis rebounded for a two-game sweep of the Phillies with a walk-off, 2-1 win at Busch Stadium. Jaime Garcia was magnificent over eight innings, limiting the Phils to five hits and one walk while striking out five, but all that good work was almost undone by an inexplicable error by shortstop Tyler Greene, who dropped a can-of-corn pop up from Jimmy Rollins in the eighth inning. Rollins eventually came around to score on a sac fly, but Lance Berkman drove in the winning run with a one-out, bases loaded single in the ninth.
- Pittsburgh's scheduled game against Washington was washed out by the threat of heavy thunderstorms in D.C. on Tuesday afternoon. The game is expected to be made up when the Pirates return to Washington on July 1-3.
- Two innings after tying the game at 1 with a ninth-inning bomb off new Astro closer Mark Melancon, Braves catcher Brian McCann sent the locals home happy with a one-out, two-run shot off of Jeff Fulchino to give Atlanta a 3-1 win -- and a two-game series sweep -- over Houston in eleven innings. Melancon's blown save robbed Wandy Rodriguez of a well-earned win: the little lefty went eight innings, scattering five hits and walking two while striking out six. Brett Wallace homered to account for the lone Astro run.
Your updated standings for May 18:
On tap for tonight:
- The Reds and Pirates begin a quick two-game series at 6:10 p.m. CDT in Cincinnati. Charlie Morton's (4-1, 3.13) scheduled start got rained out yesterday, so he takes the ball tonight. The Reds start Bronson Arroyo (3-3, 3.78).
- St. Louis and Houston also squeeze in a two-gamer before interleague play begins. Game one from Busch Stadium starts at 7:15 p.m. CDT and features Houston's Bud Norris (2-2, 3.42) and the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse (4-2, 2.31).
- The Cubs are in Miami for a two-game set against the Marlins, starting at 6:10 p.m. CDT tonight. Chicago starts Ryan Dempster, who finally has his ERA under 7.00 for the year (2-4, 6.71). Florida counters with Ricky Nolasco (3-0, 3.02).