News from around the Central:
- A day after their 'pen imploded in a nine-run Phillies eighth inning, the Cardinals cut ties with 40-year-old reliever Miguel Batista, who had given up 14 runs and 11 walks in his last twelve appearances. The Redbirds recalled Lance Lynn to bolster the relief corps; Lynn made two spot starts for St. Louis earlier this year, but he'll serve as the long relief pitcher in the 'pen now.
- To ready the bullpen before yesterday's doubleheader with the Yankees, the Reds activated right-hander Sam LeCure from the 15-day disabled list and optioned little lefty Travis Wood to AAA Louisville. Wood's stay at AAA might be an extended one, though, with Homer Bailey ready to come off the DL.
- Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno got an unexpected day off yesterday, a day after he curiously tried to lay down a bunt with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game against Baltimore. Skipper Clint Hurdle was none too pleased with that decision and gave Cedeno a time-out to purge the small ball taint from his system.
- Cubs left-fielder Alfonso Soriano made headlines in the Windy City when he was quoted as saying that Chicago fans are the "worst" in baseball. He attempted to clarify those comments yesterday, explaining that Cubs fans are only hard on him because they care so much about their team -- which seems, to me anyway, to be a close cousin of O.J.'s "if I did kill her, it's only because I loved her so much" argument.
- Injured Astro reliever Brandon Lyon has elected to have surgery on his ailing right shoulder, and the procedure will knock him out for the rest of the 2011 season. Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery next week, and Lyon should be ready to go by spring training next year.
- Milwaukee got to David Price for two early runs, but the Rays lefty was dominant from there, as Tampa Bay won the series with a 6-3 decision over the Crew. And since I haven't mentioned it yet this morning: Ron Roenicke decided to pinch hit Mark Kotsay for Jon Lucroy with two on and two down in the ninth inning. It wasn't a nightmare. That really happened. Our recap is here.
- St. Louis couldn't take advantage of the Brewer loss, falling meekly to the Phillies, 4-0, last night at Busch Stadium. Cliff Lee was marvelous for the Phils, throwing a complete game shutout and scattering six hits and a walk while striking out three. Kyle Lohse wasn't awful, but he couldn't match up with Lee on this night, and the fourth-inning homers he surrendered to Jimmy Rollins (a solo shot) and Ryan Howard (a two-run tater) proved to be an obstacle the Cards couldn't overcome.
- Cincinnati split its day-night doubleheader with the Yankees. Game one was a ho-hum affair: Jorge Posada hit a two-run homer and Freddy Garcia confounded the Reds for seven innings, giving up just three hits and two unearned runs (courtesy of a couple Ramiro Pena errors; he had three on the day) as the Yanks claimed a 4-2 win. The big story, however, came in the nightcap, when Cincinnati's Chris Heisey clubbed three home runs (in the first, fifth, and eighth innings, respectively) to fuel a 10-2 rout. Heisey finished the night three-for-five with four runs scored and five runs batted in. Johnny Cueto was solid for seven innings, giving up two hits and three walks and just one earned run while fanning six.
- Pittsburgh continued its two steps forward, two steps back routine, climbing to .500 once again -- I feel like that's the tenth time I've typed that in the last two weeks -- with a 5-4 win over the Orioles at PNC Park. The Bucs got a couple of first-inning runs on an Andrew McCutchen single and a Neil Walker double-play ball, and then scored the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the fifth when O's second baseman Blake Davis booted Josh Harrison's grounder, which allowed Brandon Wood and Michael McKenry to score. Kevin Correia picked up his ninth win, working six innings and giving up nine hits and four earned runs while striking out five.
- The White Sox claimed victory in the South Side Edition of the Windy City rivalry with a 4-3 decision over Chicago (NL) at U.S. Cellular Field. Jake Peavy only lasted 5.1 innings, ceding three earned runs on seven hits and three walks, but the Sox 'pen held the Cubs in check from there, giving up just three hits and striking out six Baby Bears in the last 3.2 innings of the game. A.J. Pierzynski tripled -- no typo -- in a couple of runs, and Brent Lillibridge had two RsBI of his own.
- Trailing 3-1 in the top of the ninth, it looked like Houston would be swept out of Arlington yesterday afternoon. But Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who threw 35 pitches in an adventurous outing on Tuesday, melted down in a big way, giving up doubles to Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson, a single to Jason Michaels, and a game-deciding three-run homer to Matt Downs. Mark Melancon's day went from "just get in some work" to "go get a win," and that he did, though the results weren't pretty: he gave up a run and three walks in two innings, but all that damage came in the eighth inning and Melancon put the Rangers down in order in the ninth for his fifth win.
Your updated standings for June 23:
Today might be the lightest day in the history of Around the NL Central:
- St. Louis concludes its series with Philadelphia at 7:15 p.m. CDT tonight. Roy Oswalt (4-5, 3.38) faces Chris Carpenter (1-7, 4.47) in the finale.
- Everybody else -- Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Houston -- has the day off.