News and notes from around the Central:
- Word is that the Pirates are looking to add a bat before the trade deadline, but Jack Moore writes at FanGraphs that the Bucs don't have to look very far: injured third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who's been out for weeks with a strained quadriceps, is tearing up the International League right now.
- Cardinal right-hander Kyle Lohse returned to St. Louis yesterday to have the middle finger on his pitching hand examined. Lohse, who's limped to a 7.00+ ERA in July, is still scheduled to start Saturday's contest against the Pirates, but that's subject to change.
- Earlier this month, there was talk that the Reds might look to swing a trade for Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, and now ESPN's Buster Olney has floated the possibility that Cincinnati could make a play for Rays right-hander James Shields.
- The Cubs had the day off yesterday, which threw the Baby Bears' rotation into a bit of a tizzy: to keep everyone on regular rest, the Cubs will skip right-hander Rodrigo Lopez's turn in the rotation on Sunday. Randy Wells, who's been all kinds of awful since he was activated from the disabled list and was a logical candidate to be bumped to the 'pen, will make his scheduled start on Saturday.
- Astro infielder Matt Downs has returned from his paternity leave, meaning that left-hander Wesley Wright's time with the big league club has come to an end (for now, anyway).
Milwaukee fell back into a first-place tie in the Central after its 4-0 loss to the Diamondbacks last night. Zack Greinke was good, Ian Kennedy was better, and the Crew's hitters were bad. Need to know more? Here's our recap.
St. Louis avoided the sweep in the Big Apple, downing the Mets by a score of 6-2 yesterday afternoon. The Cards jumped on Mets starter Jon Niese in the first inning when Albert Pujols politely swatted his 21st homer to left field, scoring Jon Jay. The game then got blown open in a three-run St. Louis fifth inning that featured a couple of Met throwing errors: the first came from first baseman Lucas Duda, who airmailed a throw attempting to initiate a double play, and the second came when Angel Pagan overshot everybody on Jon Jay's single to center. Jake Westbrook picked up his eighth win with eight stellar innings: four hits, two earned runs, one walk, three strikeouts.
- Everybody else -- Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Houston -- had the day off.
Your updated standings for July 22:
On tap for tonight:
- The Crew opens a three-game series against the NL West-leading Giants at 9:15 p.m. CDT, and it's a dandy of a pitching matchup in game one: Shaun Marcum (8-3, 3.39) takes on Matt Cain (8-5, 2.99).
- The Pirates and Cardinals start a three-game set in the Steel City at 6:05 p.m. CDT. Your scheduled starters are Paul Maholm (6-9, 3.06) and Chris Carpenter (5-7, 3.69).
- The Reds welcome the Braves to town at 6:10 p.m. CDT. On the bump for the Reds is right-hander Bronson Arroyo (7-8, 5.57); Atlanta counters with wonderboy Jair Jurrjens (12-3, 2.26).
- In the battle of the basement, the Cubs and the Astros have a matinee contest at Wrigley Field at 1:20 p.m. CDT. Bud Norris (5-6, 3.59) will take on Carlos Zambrano (6-5, 4.78), provided Zambrano doesn't strain anything on the jog in from the bullpen.