News from around the Central:
- After hitting five homers in seven days -- including two walk-off winners in extra innings -- and extending his league-leading streak of being a hypocritical jag, Albert Pujols was named the NL Player of the Week for the period ending June 5.
- Though he'd already made several appearances for AAA Louisville, injured Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman was dispatched on another minor league rehab assignment yesterday, as Cincinnati sent him to AA Carolina. Once again, Dusty Baker made cryptic comments about Chapman's mental makeup, saying that, at this point, the fireballer's "main competition is himself."
- Pittsburgh skipper Clint Hurdle wanted another lefty in the bullpen, and that meant the end of the road for righty reliever Pedro Ascanio, who was designated for assignment yesterday to make room for AAA reliever Tony Watson. Ascanio is out of options, but he hasn't shown much this year and it seems unlikely he'll be claimed on waivers.
- The Cubs losing streak reached eight last night (more on that below), and the drama that marked this weekend's sweep at the hands of the Cardinals has only dissipated slightly: after blasting Carlos Marmol's pitch selection on Sunday, starter Carlos Zambrano apologized to the Cubs closer but didn't back down from the rest of his comments.
- The Astros are inventing new and creative ways to lose games this year, and last night's contest vs. the Cardinals was no exception: the game got blown open when Brett Myers gave up a bases-clearing double to his counterpart, light-hitting pitcher Jake Westbrook (more below).
- St. Louis extended its division lead with a 7-4 victory over Houston at Minute Maid Park. Lance Berkman's second trip to Houston as a visiting player is going just as well as his first, as the Cardinal outfielder hit a two-run, first-inning tater to get St. Louis on the board. The Cards then tacked on three runs in the fourth on a two-out, 3 RBI double by pitcher Jake Westbrook, who was much better with the stick than he was on the mound last night (5.1 innings, eight hits, three walks, three runs, two earned).
- Milwaukee had plenty of chances to make some noise against former Brewer Chris Capuano, but at the end of the day, the Crew managed just a single run on a Prince Fielder homer, and after Marco Estrada melted down in the seventh inning, the Mets swiped a 2-1 win at Miller Park. Our recap is here.
- Two nights, two 8-2 wins for Cincinnati over Chicago at Great American Ballpark. The Reds touched Cub starter Doug Davis for four runs on seven hits and three walks in 4.1 innings -- have I mentioned recently how happy I am that Doug Davis continues to pitch for the Cubs? -- and ran away with the win after scoring four more runs (all courtesy of a Miguel Cairo grand slam) against John Grabow in the seventh. Edinson Volquez's return to the rotation was a good one (even if it came with a Cub-sized grain of salt), as he pitched 7 strong innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
- The Pirates climbed within a game of .500 with a come-from-behind 8-5 win over Arizona at PNC Park. Pittsburgh trailed the D-backs, 5-3, heading into the bottom of the eighth, but, fueled by doubles from Garrett Jones, Jose Tabata, and Lyle Overbay, the Bucs rallied for five runs in the frame, with Overbay clearing the bases with his two-bagger to account for the final margin. Joel Hanrahan pitched a clean ninth inning, fanning two Snakes to notch his 15th save on the year.
Your updated standings for June 8:
On tap for tonight:
- St. Louis and Houston play game two of their three-game set at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Minute Maid Park. Jaime Garcia (6-1, 3.05) starts for the Redbirds and Bud Norris goes for the 'Stros (3-4, 3.95).
- The Crew and Mets continue their series at 7:10 p.m. at Miller Park. Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.69) faces New York's Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.56).
- The Cubs and Reds wrap up their series with an early 11:35 a.m. start at Great American Ballpark. Bronson Arroyo (4-5, 5.37) tries to lead the Reds to the sweep, while Ryan Dempster (4-5, 6.32) tries to salvage a game for the Baby Bears.
- The Pirates and D-backs have a 6:05 p.m. CDT start at PNC Park tonight. Former Pirate Zach Duke (1-1, 3.00) takes on Paul Maholm (2-7, 3.66).