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Around the NL Central: June 19 Edition


Third Baseman David Freese is prepared to begin a minor league rehab assignment for the Cardinals.  Freese has been out since May 1, when he broke his hand after being hit by a pitch.  Up to that point, Freese had been hitting .356/.394/.471.  His replacement at the hot corner, Daniel Descalso, has hit .241/.298/.356 this year.

As it stands, second basemen Brandon Phillips has a $12MM team option to stay with the Reds in 2012.  Phillips says he wants to be a Red longer than that, though, and is looking to sign a contract extension.

The Astros have flown outfielder Hunter Pence back to Houston to have an MRI on his left elbow after a hypreextension.  The team is hoping that Pence won't need to be put on the DL for the first time since 2007.

Yesterday's Games:

The Astros shut out the Dodgers, 7-0Wandy Rodriguez had a good start, going six innings and giving up seven hits and a walk while striking out six.  The Astros offense attacked rookie pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, scoring five runs off of him in 4.2 innings, all of them coming in the fifth inning.  The sixth and seventh runs both came in the eighth.  Chris Johnson was 2-4 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored and Michael Bourn was 2-4 with a double, an RBI, and one run scored.  Those two doubles were the only extra base hits for the Astros.  Jeff Keppinger and Clint Barmes also had two hits apiece. 

The Pirates lost to the Indians, 5-1.  Pittsburgh didn't pick up their first hit until the sixth inning when Mike McKenry hit an infield single.  The Pirates only had four hits total.  Garrett Jones scored their lone run while Lyle Overbay drove him in.  Paul Maholm went 6.1 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks.

The Cubs lost to the Yankees, 4-3Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano each went 2-4, though neither player contributed to any scoring.  Carlos Pena hit a two run home run, scoring Blake DeWitt, and Reed Johnson hit a solo shot.  Ryan Dempster was pretty poor, going 5.1 innings and giving up three runs on a whopping eight hits and six walks, while striking out six.  With the loss, the Cubs still haven't won more than two games in a row this season.

The Reds lost to the Blue Jays, 4-0Edinson Volquez had his worst start since returning from a stint with the Cincinnati AAA team, going five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks.  As usual, he still had a good strikeout total, this time sitting down eight Toronto players.  Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen each went 2-4 to lead the Reds offensively.

The Cardinals beat the Royals 5-4.  It had been looking like the Cardinals might fall two back in the division  as the Royals led 4-3 going into the eighth, but Matt Holliday hit a two run homer to give St. Louis a lead they wouldn't relinquish.  Holliday also hit a double.  Ryan Theriot was 2-4 with a run scored and Colby Rasmus was 1-3 with a run and an RBI.  Jake Westbrook made it seven innings, but allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk.

Updated Standings:

W L GB Last 10 Streak
Brewers 40 32 -- 5-5 W1
Cardinals 39 33 1.0 2-8 W1
Reds 37 35 3.0 5-5 L2
Pirates 35 35 4.0 5-5 L2
Cubs 29 41 10.0 5-5 L1
Astros 27 45 13.0 3-7 W2


Today's Match Ups:

Jeff Karstens (4-4, 2.66) and the Pirates try to avoid a sweep courtesy of the Indians, who will counter with Justin Masterson (5-5, 3.16).

Bronson Arroyo (5-6, 5.23) and the Reds also try to avoid a sweep, in their case from the Blue Jays.  Toronto will have our old friend Carlos Villanueva (4-0, 3.25) pitching.

The Cardinals and Jaime Garcia (6-2, 3.18) go up against the Royals and Danny Duffy (1-2, 5.04).

Wandy Rodriguez (5-3, 2.88) and the Astros shoot for a sweep of the Dodgers, who have Hiroki Kuroda (5-8, 3.31) pitching.

The Cubs hope Randy Wells (1-1, 5.63) can outpitch CC Sabathia (8-4, 3.28) to beat the Yankees.

The Brewers and Yovani Gallardo (8-3, 3.76) go for a series win in Fenway against the Red Sox and Tim Wakefield (3-2, 4.39).