News from around the Central:
- Although initial reports pegged Albert Pujols' return date from a broken forearm in early August, Pujols says he felt much better yesterday and thinks he "can play right now." Pujols will have a follow-up exam in about a week, and the timetable for his return could be adjusted then.
- Heavy rains postponed the Reds game with the Yankees last night, and since the teams aren't scheduled to face each other again this year, they'll try to squeeze in a doubleheader today. Johnny Cueto was supposed to start yesterday's game, but Dusty Baker bumped Cueto to the nightcap of the doubleheader and gives the ball to Mike Leake in game one.
- Given the note yesterday on Pirates starter Charlie Morton, this news comes as no surprise: after slumping to an 8.50 ERA in his starts in June, manager Clint Hurdle is skipping Morton's next turn in the rotation, and the right-hander will have eleven days off before his next start.
- Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, who's recovering from facial injuries suffered when he was hit in the face with a pitch last month in Boston, says he expects to begin a minor-league rehab assignment next week.
- Hunter Pence claimed he'd return to the Houston outfield yesterday, but that plan was scuffled when Pence couldn't swing a bat because of pain in his sprained left elbowHunter Pence likely out until Friday with sprained left elbow. Pence will be held out of today's finale with the Rangers and should return when the 'Stros face the Rangers on Friday.
- Milwaukee got a great start from Zack Greinke, who struck out ten without walking a batter in seven innings, and used a three-run rally in the eighth to run away from the Rays, 5-1. Our recap is here.
- St. Louis fell out of first place with a thud, dropping a 10-2 decision to the Phillies at Busch Stadium. The Cards were breezing along with a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth, but then the wheels came off; presented without commercial interruption, here's the Philadelphia eighth: Rollins lined out; Victorino singled; Utley walked; Howard was hit by a pitch; Polanco was hit by a pitch; Ibanez struck out; Francisco singled; Ruiz walked; Michael Martinez walked; Rollins singled; Victorino walked; Utley singled; Howard singled; Valdez flew out. When the smoke cleared, five Cardinal relievers gave up nine runs on five singles, four walks, and two HBPs, and it was all over but the cryin'.
Cincinnati's game with the Yankees was washed out, and the teams will make up the rainout in a day-night doubleheader today. More on that below.
- Pittsburgh ended its four-game losing streak in a big way with a 9-3 decision over Baltimore at PNC Park. The Buccos scored early and often, plating three runs in the first and tacking on single runs in the second, third, and seventh before blowing the game open with a three-run eighth. Neil Walker went 2-4 and drove in three, Garrett Jones doubled in a pair of runs, Xavier Paul drove in two with a sac fly and a single, and Jose Tabata had a two-RBI day, as well. Former Brewer J.J. Hardy hit his ninth homer for the O's.
- The Cubs rallied from an early 2-0 deficit against the White Sox, pulling even thanks to a Carlos Pena homer (his 13th on the year) and an Aramis Ramirez sacrifice fly. But an hour-and-forty-four minute rain delay ended Matt Garza's night early, and Jeff Samardzija gave up the winning run when Alexei Ramirez scored on Brent Morel's one-out sacrifice fly in the seventh. Sergio Santos picked up a four-out save (his 13th), whiffing three Cubs and needing just 15 pitches to put Chicago (NL) to bed.
Houston dropped to a whopping 21 games below .500, losing 5-4 to Texas in 11 innings on a walk-off homer by Mitch Moreland. Astro rookie Jordan Lyles turned in a solid outing, going seven innings and limiting the Rangers to three runs on seven hits and two walks and departing with a 4-3 lead. But Sergio Escalona surrendered that lead immediately, giving up a leadoff homer to Josh Hamilton in the eighth to knot the game at 4. Michael Young and Nelson Cruz also homered for the Rangers.
Your updated standings for June 22:
On tap for today:
- The Crew and Rays wrap up their series at 1:10 p.m. CDT today. Shaun Marcum (7-2, 2.85) has been pronounced fit to pitch, and he'll face Rays ace David Price (7-6, 3.61).
- St. Louis continues its series with the Phils at 7:15 p.m. CDT at Busch Stadium, as Kyle Lohse (7-3, 2.88) takes on Cliff Lee (7-5, 3.12).
- The Yankees and Reds play two to finish up their series: game one begins at 11:35 a.m. CDT, with Mike Leake (6-3, 4.04) taking on Freddy Garcia (5-6, 3.63). Game two is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CDT, with Johnny Cueto (4-2, 1.68) facing Brian Gordon (0-0, 3.38).
- The Pirates and Orioles conclude their series at 11:35 a.m. CDT at PNC Park. Kevin Correia (8-6, 3.60) takes the ball for the Bucs, while Zach Britton (6-4, 3.10) goes for the O's.
- The Cubs and White Sox end the South Side portion of the schedule with a 7:10 p.m. CDT start at U.S. Cellular Field. Doug Davis (1-5, 4.95) faces Jake Peavy (2-1, 4.66) in the finale.
- The Astros and Rangers finish up their set at 7:05 p.m. CDT in Arlington. Brett Myers (3-6, 4.75) starts for the 'Stros, and Colby Lewis (6-7, 4.80) is on the bump for the Rangers.