News and notes from around the Central:
- As we mentioned yesterday, Cardinal starter Edwin Jackson had to leave Sunday's win over the Rockies with a severe cramp in his right hamstring. But he was feeling much better yesterday, and the team says it doesn't expect Jackson to miss his next start.
- Following a week where he hammered five homers and slugged a robust 1.120, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce was named the NL Player of the Week. It's the second time Bruce has been honored with the award this season.
- Pittsburgh outfielder Jose Tabata, who's been on the DL since late June because of a quad strain, was summoned from his rehab assignment on Monday, but he wasn't activated quite yet: the club says it wanted to put Tabata through a series of drills to see if he's ready to play again.
- From the "too little, too late" files: Carlos Zambrano apologized on Monday for his latest (and perhaps greatest) hissy-fit, when he packed his belongings and announced he was retiring after being ejected from Friday's loss to the Braves.
- Back in May, Astros owner Drayton McLane announced he'd sold the club to a group headed by Houston businessman Jim Crane. The sale, of course, has to be approved by the baseball owners, but that vote has been postponed because MLB says it needs more time to review the proposed transaction.
- How you know things are going your way: your starter allows six hits and gives up five walks, but doesn't give up any runs (and only throws 101 pitches) over eight innings. How'd it happen? Check out the recap of Milwaukee 3, Los Angeles 0.
- The Cardinals seemed to have Pittsburgh starter James McDonald on the ropes a couple of times during last night's 6-2 loss to the Pirates, but St. Louis could never deliver the knockout blow: McDonald tightroped his way through 5.2 innings, giving up six hits and two walks but just two earned runs, and four Pirate relievers finished off the Cards with 3.1 scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Bucs worked Cards starter Jake Westbrook for five runs (four earned) in 5.2 innings, as Xavier Paul and Ryan Doumit clubbed homers (with Doumit's being a three-run shot) to power the Pirates to the win.
- It's probably not fair to call this series the Battle for the Basement, since Chicago is 16.0 games ahead of the comically-bad Astros in the Central, but whatever: in the Battle for the Basement, the Cubs claimed a 4-3 victory over Houston thanks to a pair of 2-RBI doubles: Carlos Pena knocked in two runs in the first with a booming fly to center field, and Geovany Soto ripped a double into the corner in the sixth to plate two more. Matt Downs drove in all three Astro runs, but the Astros were held hitless over the last 3.2 innings, and Kerry Wood picked up his first save of the year, setting Houston down in order in the ninth.
- Cincinnati had the day off.
Your updated standings for August 16:
The Wild Card race looks like this right now:
On tap for tonight:
- The Crew and Dodgers are back in action at 7:10 p.m. CDT tonight, when Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.67) takes on Chad Billingsley (10-9, 4.17).
- The Cardinals and Pirates resume their series at 6:05 p.m. CDT at PNC Park. Chris Carpenter (8-8, 3.68) faces Jeff Karstens (9-6, 3.04) in game two.
- Cincinnati is in Washington to open a three-game series with the Nationals at 6:05 p.m. CDT. Mike Leake (10-7, 3.84) matches up against Chien-Ming Wang (1-2, 3.60) in the opener.
- The Cubs get to take the billyclub to the Astros again at 7:05 p.m. CDT at Minute Maid Park. Ryan Dempster (10-8, 4.70) is on the bump for the Baby Bears, while Brett Myers (3-12, 4.71) continues to punch the pay clock for Houston.