News and notes from around the Central:
- Even though the Phillies have clinched the NL East and all but sewn up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa doesn't want to see the Phils' jayvee squad in the finale of St. Louis' series with Philly.
- The injuries are mounting late in the year for the Reds, who had to use rookie Devin Mesoraco behind the dish for the second straight game on Sunday with Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan unavailable.
- The Pirates will keep young right-hander Jeff Locke on a strict pitch count in his remaining starts in 2011: Locke was lifted after just three innings in his most recent start, and he'll be allowed to throw 75-80 pitches per start for the last week of the season.
- Congratulations today go to Cubs manager Cryin' Mike Quade, who tied the single-season ejections mark for a Chicago skipper when he got run during the eighth inning of yesterday's loss to the Astros. Quade's ire was fueled this time by a reversed home run call: Umpires ruled that Carlos Pena's blast hadn't left the playing field after a video review, and when Quade protested that Starlin Castro should be awarded home plate (because he stopped running when umpires originally signaled home run), he was shown the door for the seventh time this season.
- For the first time in the history of the Astros franchise, Houston has lost 100 games in a season. That dubious mark was set on Saturday when the 'Stros dropped a 2-1 decision to the Cubs.
- Milwaukee took full advantage of an emergency start by Matt Maloney, battering the Cincinnati left-hander for seven runs in one-plus innings and sweeping the series from the Reds with an 8-1 win at Great American Ballpark. Our recap is here.
- St. Louis gained a game on Atlanta in the Wild Card race with a 5-0 shutout of the Phillies on Sunday night. Chris Carpenter spun a gem, holding the Phillies scoreless for eight innings and giving up eight hits while striking out five. Al Pujols sparked the Cards' offense with a two-run homer off of Cole Hamels in the first inning, and Allen Craig put the game out of reach with a two-run shot of his own in the sixth. Craig added another homer in the eighth to account for the final margin as the Cards crept to within 3.5 games of the Braves in the battle for the last playoff spot.
Pittsburgh got slaughtered by the Dodgers, 15-1, at Dodger Stadium. L.A. banged out 23 hits on the day and bludgeoned Pirates starter Brad Lincoln for six earned runs in just 1.2 innings, and the seven Pirates relievers who followed didn't fare much better: Aaron Thompson gave up three earned in a third of an inning; Chris Leroux gave up two in two-thirds of an inning; and Daniel McCutchen got touched for three earned runs and six hits in just 1.1 innings. There were plenty of hitting heroes for the Dodgers, but James Loney deserves special mention: he was 5-for-6 on the day with three runs batted in.
- Houston clipped Chicago, 3-2, at Wrigley Field to avoid its 101st loss the year. The Astros got all their offense in the first inning, as J.D. Martinez drove in the game's first run with a single and Clint Barmes added a 2-RBI single to give Houston an early 3-0 lead. That was all the offense Brett Myers needed, as the right-hander worked 7.2 innings, scattering six hits and giving up two runs (one earned) while striking out five. Mark Melancon worked the last inning-and-a-third, striking out three of the four Cubs he faced to earn his 18th save.
- Arizona avoided the sweep by the Padres with a 5-1 win on Sunday afternoon. Joe Saunders worked 8.2 innings of seven-hit ball, and J.J. Putz picked up a cheap 41st save by retiring the last hitter with runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth. Paul Goldschmidt was 2-for-3 with a solo homer and three runs driven in as the D-backs reduced their magic number to clinch the NL West to five.
Your updated standings for September 19:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
The Wild Card race looks like this right now:
And here are the playoff participants, if the season ended today:
Braves (Wild Card)
On tap for today:
- The Crew heads to Wrigley Field to begin a three-game series with the Cubs at 7:05 p.m. CDT. Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40) faces Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06) in game one.
- The Cardinals wrap up their four game set with the Phillies at 6:05 p.m. CDT, when Kyle Lohse (13-8, 3.62) battles Roy Halladay (18-5, 2.34).
- The Reds host Houston at 6:10 p.m. CDT at Great American Ballpark. Dontrelle Willis (0-6, 5.04) is scheduled to start for Cincinnati, providing his back cooperates, while J.A. Happ (6-15, 5.59) goes for the Astros.
- The floundering Pirates visit Phoenix for a series with the NL West-leading Diamondbacks that begins at 8:40 p.m. CDT. Charlie Morton (9-10, 3.81) takes on Ian Kennedy (19-4, 2.99) in the opener.