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Andy Behrens

Closing Time: Carlos Santana still homering, still waiting

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Cleveland catching prospect Carlos Santana(notes) has three official at-bats over the past two days, and he's hit three home runs. His other plate appearances have resulted in four walks and a sacrifice fly. Here's video of Sunday's bomb, via MiLB.com. It's not every day that you get to hear an announcer say, "It hit the protective netting on the backside of the hamburger balcony!"

Santana hit two more homers on Monday. The first was a grand slam to right-center and the second was reportedly a roof shot to right (presumably clearing the burger balcony altogether). He's now up to nine home runs and 37 RBIs on the season for Triple-A Columbus, and he's batting .333 with an on-base percentage of .461. He's ready for the big leagues — perhaps as ready as any non-Strasburg in the minors.

By now, you should have at least a vague understanding of the economic weirdness that keeps these guys on the farm during the early weeks. (Terrible official explanation here; much better explanation here). The switch-hitting Santana will arrive soon, and he'll immediately take over full-time backstop duties from Lou Marson(notes) (.553 OPS). He's just four percent owned.

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OK, so maybe you weren't awed by Johnny Cueto's(notes) one-hit shutout of the Pirates last week, due to quality-of-opponent issues. But he followed it up with a one-run, seven-strikeout win over the Brewers on Monday, and he beat Yovani Gallardo(notes) in the process. Over his last four appearances, Cueto is 3-0 with a 0.89 WHIP and 26 Ks in 27.0 innings. And yes, they're still the first-place Cincinnati Reds, despite Corey Hart's(notes) best efforts (3-for-4, 2 HRs).

Entering Monday's game, Marlins hitters ranked fourth in baseball in total team strikeouts, so it wasn't necessarily a surprise to see Edwin Jackson(notes) piling up Ks. Still, no one could have possibly expected a four-hit, 12-strikeout effort. Jackson was excellent, but as Florida outfielder Chris Coghlan(notes) mentioned in his postgame comments, "I think he was a little erratic in the beginning of the game and sometimes we were helping him out." Coghlan added, "Toward the end, [Jackson] was throwing everything for strikes." That's a new single-game career high in Ks for Edwin. He'll get the Jays next.

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Hanley Ramirez(notes) owners got a scare when the Florida shortstop fouled a pitch off his left shin in the first inning, but he stayed in the game … just long enough to get kicked out by his manager.

The image over on the right is a snapshot of the brief exchange between Ramirez and Fredi Gonzalez in the Florida dugout, not long after Hanley's second inning fielding error. After booting a ball into left field, Ramirez jogged after it halfheartedly, allowing two runs to score. Gonzalez, understandably, was not happy. These were his comments via the AP:

"Hanley left the game because we felt — he got smoked in the ankle — but we felt whether he was hurt or not hurt or whatever it was, we felt that the effort wasn’t there that we wanted," Gonzalez said. "There are some injuries there, but we expect an effort from 25 guys on this team and when that doesn’t happen, we have got to do something."

And so they did. On behalf of Hanley owners everywhere, I'd like to state unequivocally that he's learned his lesson and this will never happen again, so he needs to play tomorrow.

There's rarely anything worth saying in this space about a Yankees-Red Sox tilt, because all of the players involved are widely owned and/or much-discussed. But it's also tough to ignore a 20-run, 26-hit contest. The 51 percent-owned JD Drew(notes) homered, as did five other players. Jonathan Papelbon(notes) recorded his first regular season blown save since July 28, as Alex Rodriguez(notes) hit a game-tying blast in the ninth and Marcus Thames(notes) walked off. Video here.

Derek Holland(notes) beat the Angels on Monday, giving him two wins in as many starts since being recalled. His final stat line doesn't quite jump off the page (5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K), but the W helps, and we know he's capable of serious strikeout totals. The lefty will get the Cubs on Saturday.

Corey Patterson(notes) scored three runs and stole two bases on Monday, and if you've just awakened from a three-year coma then you probably can't believe he's still a free agent in your league. Check the career rate stats before adding; know what you're signing up for.

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Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) suffered a broken left forearm in Cleveland's loss to Tampa Bay, and surgery is reportedly a possibility. Details here via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The injury took place in the first inning when Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta(notes) collided on a Hank Blalock(notes) single over second base.

Cabrera was shifted to second base and Peralta was shifted to shortstop against the left-handed-hitting Blalock. Cabrera stopped Blalock's hit with a dive, but Peralta tumbled over him. Cabrera, face down behind second base, kicked his feet in pain as trainers from both teams rushed to his assistance.

Cabrera was eventually carted off the field. The Tribe is expected to promote shortstop Jason Donald(notes) from Columbus. He was hitting .277/.396/.423 at Triple-A with 10 doubles, two homers and 10 steals, and he's worth a look in deeper formats that require you to fill a MI spot.

First the Cubs reduced the number of innings that Carlos Zambrano(notes) was supposed to throw (thereby negating his best trait: endurance). Now they've reduced the importance of the very few innings that they want him to toss, shifting him to long relief. Here's manager Lou Piniella, as quoted by the Tribune's Paul Sullivan:

"Look, we thought the outcome would be a little different, and he's not as comfortable in the bullpen pitching short," Piniella said. "So we're going to use him in a different role, give him some stamina, build up his arm."

Perhaps they intend to return the $18 million pitcher to the rotation, which would of course be his best shot at regaining fantasy value. Zambrano himself said, "If they want to send me to the minor leagues to work, I will work in the minor leagues."

The Cubs managed to beat Colorado in extra innings on Monday, thanks to Aramis Ramirez's(notes) first meaningful hit in forever. Highlight here.

Drew Storen(notes) had a successful major league debut, pitching two-thirds of an inning with his team trailing. He hit a batter, but that was the only baserunner he allowed, and he K'd Matt Holliday(notes) to end the seventh inning. You'll find a longer look at Storen here.

Here's a rather incredible fact from the AP recap of San Diego's 3-1 win: "The Padres haven't trailed against the Giants once this season." They obviously didn't trail tonight, as Clayton Richard(notes) earned his third win and reduced his season ERA to 2.94. Note the 1.41 WHIP, however.

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Dodgers starter John Ely(notes) earned his second straight win on Monday, and he hasn't allowed a walk in any of his last three starts dating back to May 6. Over the past 19.2 innings, he's struck out 21 hitters. His WHIP is now 0.94, and his next start will be on Saturday against Detroit. For what it's worth, Houston's Jeff Keppinger(notes) was not particularly impressed by Ely's stuff:

"To be honest, I don’t think he was that difficult to hit. I know that’s hard to say after the game he threw, but we’re struggling as an offense right now."

Ely isn't a hard-thrower, but he's mixing four pitches well, and everything is a strike. His minor league numbers don't suggest the kind of control we're seeing at the moment, but you can't argue with the recent results (unless you're Keppinger).

Everybody hurts: Hope you're sitting down because this first one is a stunner: Nick Johnson(notes) is going to have surgery on his wrist, and he won't even be allowed to pick up a bat for 4-6 weeks. Johnson's DL visit is the tenth of his career. According to the New York Daily News, "He insists that he will be back on the field this season, an opinion shared by his manager." … JP Howell(notes) shut down a simulated game after only 12 pitches, and Rays manager Joe Maddon said it was "definitely a setback." … Toronto outfielder Travis Snider(notes) has been on a nice run, but he hit the DL on Monday with a right wrist strain. Edwin Encarnacion(notes) returns from the disabled list Tuesday, bumping Jose Bautista(notes) to the outfield. … Mike Cameron(notes) still has some abdominal soreness according to his manager, so he'll spend a few more days in the minors. Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) DH'd and went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs-scored in his first rehab appearance; he's expected to play the outfield on Tuesday. … Brian Roberts(notes) reports to Sarasota on Wednesday for "baseball-related activities," which sounds excellent. Injured O's reliever Michael Gonzalez(notes) just threw BP in Florida on Monday.


Photos via Getty Images (Santana), AP Images (Cabrera) and US Presswire (Ely)

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