News and notes from around the Central:
Pittsburgh is making big changes to its roster before it opens an important series with St. Louis this weekend: Ronny Cedeno has recovered from a concussion, catcher Jason Jaramillo and infielder Steve Pearce are ready to come off the disabled list, and the Bucs are expected to bring in veteran right-hander Jason Grilli to bolster the bullpen.
- St. Louis' bullpen has been a wreck all season, and with the trade deadline looming, there's been some talk that the Cards might try to swing a trade for former Cardinal Jason Isringhausen, who's closing for the Mets now that Francisco Rodriguez is a Brewer. Izzy says he'd be open to the move, but he doubts St. Louis feels the same way.
- The Reds have a surplus of outfielders with Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis, Chris Heisey, Drew Stubbs, and Jay Bruce all on the active roster. There are rumblings that the Braves have kicked the tires on Gomes, who's lost playing time to Lewis recently.
- The Cubs lost their 60th game of the season yesterday, and, as you'd expect, Cryin' Mike Quade was looking for someone to blame afterwards. This time, his wrath was unleashed on Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney: the youngsters lost a pop-up in the sun in the first inning, which caused Quade to fume: "The sun's been in the same spot for however long Wrigley Field's been here."
- The Astros wasted no time in inserting recently-promoted second baseman Jose Altuve into the lineup: Altuve batted second in yesterday's series finale against the Nationals and went 1-for-5 with a strikeout.
- Milwaukee reclaimed sole possession of first place with a reach-for-the-Tums victory over the Diamondbacks, 5-2 in 10 innings. If you're like me and the game finished after your bedtime, check out the recap, yo.
- Pittsburgh couldn't finish off the sweep of Cincinnati, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Reds at PNC Park. After being shut out in back to back games, it was Cincinnati's turn to get a dominant pitching performance this time: Johnny Cueto and four Reds relievers combined to hold the Bucs to five hits and two walks, and the only offense the Pirates could muster came on an Andrew McCutchen RBI double in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Reds scrapped their way to a couple of runs on sac flies by Joey Votto and Miguel Cairo (respectively), and Edgar Renteria singled in Cueto in the fifth to provide the final margin.
- St. Louis couldn't take advantage of Pittsburgh's loss, falling in 10 innings to the Mets, 6-5. This game teeter-tottered back and forth throughout: the Cards got on the board in the first on Matt Holliday's sac fly and then notched three runs in the second inning, thanks to RBIs from Jon Jay, Holliday, and Lance Berkman. But the Mets fought back with two runs of their own in the third (RBIs from Josh Thole and pitcher R.A. Dickey) and then knotted the game in the fifth when Carlos Beltran crushed a massive two-run homer off of Kyle McClellan. Each team scored a run in the eighth to keep the game tied, and the Mets walked off winners in the tenth when Angel Pagan homered on the first pitch he saw from Fernando Salas.
- The Cubs are so, so bad, you guys: Philadelphia scored in each of the game's first four innings (two in the first, three in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth) and clubbed Chicago, 9-1, yesterday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Bad Ryan Dempster showed up in a big way yesterday: the right-hander surrendered seven hits and three walks in just three innings, and six Phillies scored in Dempster's brief stint. Jimmy Rollins was 3-for-5 with two homers, four runs scored and three driven in, and Chase Utley was 2-for-3 with a walk and a two-run double.
- Hey, look at that: Houston won two games in a row. It took 11 innings, but the 'Stros got a walk-off, 3-2 win over the Nationals when pinch hitter Jason Michaels singled in catcher Humberto Quintero, who went station to station after leading off the inning with a single; Quintero was bunted over to second by Angel Sanchez, then moved to third on Michael Bourn's single to center field. Brett Myers, as per usual, gave up a ton of baserunners (eight hits and two walks in seven innings), but the Nats only managed two runs and couldn't do anything against three Houston relievers.
Your updated standings for July 21:
On tap for tonight: it's a very light day around the Central:
- The Crew wraps up its series with the Diamondbacks at 8:40 p.m. CDT tonight, when Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.04) takes on Ian Kennedy (10-3, 3.39).
- The Cardinals and Mets conclude their series with an early 11:10 a.m. CDT start at Citi Field. Jake Westbrook (7-4, 5.26) starts for the Cards, while Jon Niese (9-7, 3.73) takes the ball for New York.
- Everybody else takes the day off.