(Rubie sez: things were getting a bit cluttered in Around the NL Central with all the notes regarding the playoff chase, so I'm going to try something new today. This post just covers the NL Central. In about an hour or so, we'll do Around the Playoff Chase. Lemme know what you think.)
News and notes from around the Central:
- A day after his curious "we were in first place when I was the starting shortstop" comments, St. Louis infielder Ryan Theriot was out of the lineup and didn't appear in the Cards' 4-3 win over Philly last night. I'm sure those things are unrelated.
- Reds left-hander Dontrelle Willis was scratched from his second straight start last night after being skipped on Sunday because of back spasms. Willis saw a chiropractor yesterday and was feeling better, but his back tightened up before the game so Travis Wood took Willis' spot.
- The Cubs have shut down set-up man Kerry Wood for the season after Wood tore the meniscus in his left knee, apparently during warm-ups a few days ago. Wood's had issues with the left knee all season, but he says he squatted down a couple of days ago and felt a pop and sharp pain as he stood up.
- Jeff Karstens has also been shut down, but not because of any injury concerns: Karstens has thrown 162 innings this season after he started the year as the Bucs long reliever, and the Pirates have decided that's enough for one season.
- The Astros are moving utilityman Matt Downs around quite a bit in the season's last week: Downs has already played all four infield positions this year, and last night he got a start in right field. There's also been talk of the 'Stros using Downs at catcher next season.
- Milwaukee managed just a Jerry Hairston, Jr., homer off of Chicago starter Casey Coleman, and a couple of homers by Geovany Soto spelled doom for the Crew as the Cubs claimed a 5-2 win at Wrigley Field. Our recap is here.
- St. Louis took three of four from Philadelphia and pulled to within 5.5 games in the Central with a 4-3 victory over the Phils last night. The Cards wasted no time in getting after Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay, plating a couple of runs in the first inning on Nick Punto's RBI groundout and Lance Berkman's solo homer. St. Louis tacked on single runs in the third (Berkman's RBI single) and the seventh (Al Pujols' RBI double) and held on through some tense moments in the ninth: Jimmy Rollins drove in Carlos Ruiz with a triple off of Jason Motte, and Shane Victorino drove in Rollins with a groundout. But Arthur Rhodes retired Chase Utley and Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground out to end it.
- Houston rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to clip Cincinnati, 3-2, at Great American Ballpark. The Reds got single runs in the first and second innings on Brandon Phillips' solo homer and Todd Frazier's RBI double, respectively, but the bats went into the deep freeze after that, as J.A. Happ struck out nine Reds while giving up three hits over six innings. Meanwhile, the Astros got two runs in the sixth inning -- one unearned on Todd Frazier's error, one earned on Clint Barmes' RBI groundout -- and Matt Downs snapped a 2-2 tie with a laser-beam homer to left field in the eighth to give the Astros the win.
Pittsburgh had no clue against Arizona's Ian Kennedy, as the right-hander struck out 12 and picked up his 20th win of the year with eight innings of one-hit ball in a 1-0 Diamondbacks win at Chase Field. The only run scored on Justin Upton's solo homer in the sixth inning (the play was upheld as a homer after video review), and the Bucs couldn't take advantage of a one-out Alex Presley triple in the ninth inning: J.J. Putz got Neil Walker to tap out to first base, and Andrew McCutchen went down swinging for the game's final out.
Your updated NL Central standings for September 20:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Elimination #
On tap for today:
- The Crew resumes its series with the Cubs at 7:05 p.m. CDT, when Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40) takes on Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93).
- The Cardinals come home after a fantastic road trip to face the slumping Mets. Game one starts at 7:15 p.m. CDT and features Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.71) and Mike Pelfrey (7-12, 4.48).
- The Reds and Astros are back in action at 6:10 p.m. CDT at Great American Ballpark, when Homer Bailey (8-7, 4.43) battles Bud Norris (6-10, 3.68).
- The Pirates try to snap their losing streak when they face the D-backs at 8:40 p.m. CDT at Chase Field. Charlie Morton (9-10, 3.81) faces Daniel Hudson (16-10, 3.39) in this one.