News from around the Central:
- The suddenly-second-place Cardinals are getting one player back -- Matt Holliday is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday -- while losing another -- Allen Craig's been placed on the DL with a right knee contusion.
- There's talk that MLB might bump a team from the NL to the AL and nix the division format that's been in place for more than forty years. Reds manager Dusty Baker likes the idea of doing away with the six-team NL Central, but he's concerned about the prospects of playing interleague ball all season.
- Cubs reliever Kerry Wood's developed a blister on his right index finger, which, according to my sources, makes throwing a baseball difficult. Wood is expected to join the 27 Cubs who are on the DL right now.
- With Ryan Doumit out and Chris Snyder possibly done for the year, the Pirates bolstered their catching corps by acquiring Michael McKenry from the Red Sox for "cash considerations" or a player to be named later. The Bucs DFAed Wyatt Torregas to make room on the roster for McKenry.
- Rookie hurler Jordan Lyles showed enough in his two-week stint with the Astros to earn a spot in the rotation going forward: with Wandy Rodriguez coming back from the DL today, Aneury Rodriguez was moved back to the 'pen (got that?) to open a spot in the rotation for Lyles.
- There's a new leader in the Central this morning: Milwaukee rode the hot hands of Shaun Marcum (7 innings pitched, five hits, two walks, three runs, eight strikeouts) and Prince Fielder (2-3 with a walk and a two-run, go-ahead homer in the sixth) to a sweep of St. Louis and a half-game edge in the division standings. Our recap is here.
- Edinson Volquez had another solid start in his return from minor league exile, throwing six innings and giving up two runs while striking out five, but Cincinnati's sticks couldn't muster enough offense against Jonathan Sanchez and four Giant relievers as San Francisco clipped the Reds, 4-2, on Sunday night. With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Giants small-balled their way to victory thanks to a Nate Schierholtz sac fly and an Aubrey Huff single. Brian Wilson worked around a two-out single to save his 18th game of the season.
- Ryan Howard tormented the Cubs all day, doubling in a run in the first and then singling home two runs in the seventh inning as the Phillies clipped Chicago, 4-3, at Citizens Bank Park. Doug Davis turned in his customary 5-inning, 5-walk, 5-hit performance, but the Cubs still had a chance to win this one, clinging to a 3-2 lead in the seventh on the strength of a two-run Aramis Ramirez homer in the first inning. But lefty Sean Marshall couldn't retire Howard in the seventh and the Cubs went scoreless against Roy Oswalt and two relievers for the last eight innings of the game.
- The .500 mark got a bit further away from the Pirates, as the Mets plated seven runs in the last three innings of the game to turn a scoreless tie into a 7-0 curbstomping of Pittsburgh. Justin Turner doubled in a run in the eighth and Carlos Beltran drove in two more with a single, and Scott Hairston and Jose Reyes hit back-to-back homers in the ninth to make a winner out of Chris Capuano, who pitched seven innings and limited the Bucs to five baserunners and no runs.
- The Astros had no answer for Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson, who dominated Houston for seven innings -- three hits, two walks, one run, and fourteen strikeouts -- as Atlanta claimed a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park. Brett Myers wasn't awful, going seven innings and giving up four runs on five hits while striking out six, but two-run homers by Dan Uggla and Brian McCann gave Hanson all the support he needed.
Your updated standings for June 13:
On tap for today:
- The Crew invades Wrigley Field for a four-game series against the Cubs that begins at 7:05 p.m. tonight. Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.49) faces Ryan Dempster (5-5, 5.96) in the opener.
- The Reds continue their West Coast swing with a series against the Dodgers that starts at 9:10 p.m. CDT. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 5.28) gets the ball for the Reds, while Hiroki Kuroda (5-7, 3.35) goes for L.A.
- Pittsburgh wraps up its wraparound series with New York at 6:05 p.m. tonight, as Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.35) takes on Paul Maholm (2-7, 3.39).
- The Astros and Braves conclude their series at 7:05 p.m. CDT at Minute Maid Park. Scheduled to start: for the Braves, Derek Lowe (2-4, 3.73); for the 'Stros, Wandy Rodriguez (3-3, 3.41).
- The Cardinals have the day off.