News and notes from around the Central:
- The arms race should be kicking into high gear in the NL Central soon: the Brewers fired the first shot with the surprising trade for Francisco Rodriguez, and St. Louis GM John Mozeliak says the Cards are looking to add a starter or help in the bullpen for the stretch run.
- The Pirates, meanwhile, might look to add a bat at the trade deadline, provided they keep pace with the top of the division for the rest of the month. Hunter Pence's name is mentioned in this article, but it would probably cost too much to pry him away from the Astros.
- One more "meanwhile": meanwhile, the Reds' situation might be the most uncertain in the Central: with Cincinnati currently limping along in fourth place and sitting two games under .500, it might not make sense for the Reds to add a piece right now.
- For reasons that have never been explained, Cubs skipper Cryin' Mike Quade was part of manager Bruce Bochy's coaching staff at the All-Star Game. But the trip home for Quade ended up being more eventful than the festivities in Phoenix, as Quade was detained for almost an hour by some inquisitive TSA agents at Sky Harbor Airport. (Fortunately for the rest of the Central, the TSA agents eventually let Quade go.)
- The Astros are in SELL mode, but aside from Hunter Pence and (maybe) Brett Myers, there isn't much they have to offer.
- If yesterday was a tone-setter for the second half for the Crew, you might want to avert your eyes: Yovani Gallardo was pitiful, giving up 11 hits and six runs (all earned) in just four innings, and the 'pen was no better, as the Rockies ran away from Milwaukee, 12-3, at Coors Field. Our recap is here.
- This is going to be a long recap, but we all need a little schadenfreude on a morning like this one: the Cubs were breezing along with a 2-0 lead heading into the ninth inning of yesterday's contest vs. the Marlins. Matt Garza had given up a lot of baserunners -- six hits and three walks in seven innings -- but had stranded all of 'em, thanks in part to six strikeouts. And it seemed that Chicago had gotten just enough from its offense, as a homer from Marlon Byrd and a bases-loaded, grit-fueled HBP of Darwin Barney staked the Cubs to a two-run advantage. But then Carlos Marmol took the mound in the ninth inning and promptly walked the bases loaded, and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs just as promptly cleared them, lining a three-run double to right field (though the last run scored on a throwing error by Barney). After Marmol walked another batter, Kerry Wood took over and walked Omar Infante, then surrendered a sac fly to Gaby Sanchez and a single to Hanley Ramirez to plate two more runs. James Russell then relieved Wood, and Mike Cameron capped the scoring with a two-out single that scored Infante. That's six ninth-inning runs, if you score along with us, and the Fish get the win, 6-3.
Your updated standings for July 15:
On tap for tonight:
- St. Louis and Cincinnati start a three-game series tonight at Great American Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CDT, with Jake Westbrook (7-4, 5.34) taking on Johnny Cueto (5-3, 1.96).
- The Crew and Rox are back at it at 7:40 p.m. CDT at Coors Field. In game two, Chris Narveson (6-5, 4.75) faces Juan Nicasio (3-2, 4.91).
- The Pirates and Astros begin a three-game set at Minute Maid Park at 7:05 p.m. CDT tonight. Scheduled to start: for the Bucs, Jeff Karstens (7-4, 2.55); for the Astros, Brett Myers (3-9, 4.88).
- The Cubs continue their four-game series with Florida at 1:20 p.m. CDT this afternoon. Ryan Dempster (6-6, 5.01) gets the start for the Baby Bears, while Ricky Nolasco (6-5, 3.70) takes the ball for the Fish.