The plucky Astros put up 13 hits and 10 runs in Cincinnati on Tuesday, with Bourgeois and Brett Wallace (two hits, and finally another homer) taking the lead roles. The bust-out might have cost Mike Leake his starting gig in Cincinnati; Leake allowed seven of the runs and didn't get out of the fourth. Dusty Baker is prepared to put Leake in the bullpen when Johnny Cueto comes back on the weekend; apparently the Reds are wise enough to realize that Travis Wood is pitching far better than his surface stats suggest (look at that zesty strikeout/walk rate).
• Frank Francisco owners got the blowup they wanted — Jon Rauch handed away a game at Tampa Bay. Ben Zobrist started the rally with a single, then B.J. Upton ended things with a walk-off blast to dead center. The gopher ball has been the biggest problem for Rauch in 2011; he's already allowed three of them. Francisco probably will get the tap on the shoulder when the next save chance comes along.
• A couple of struggling Cubs got off the skids in a much-needed victory at Los Angeles. Start with right-hander Ryan Dempster, who finally got back in form and worked seven strong innings (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 11 ground-ball outs). He's back in Chicago on the weekend, up against the Reds on Sunday. Dempster had to settle for a no-decision, but it's encouraging to see him throw the ball so well. Carlos Pena sparked the Chicago offense, scoring two runs and hitting a solo homer.
The game-deciding rally came in the top of the ninth, when the Cubs scored three times to break open a 1-1 game. Jonathan Broxton opened the floodgates with one out, walking Marlon Byrd and Pena on eight consecutive pitches. Don Mattingly pulled Broxton at that point but Blake Hawksworth couldn't save the day — Geovany Soto dunked a two-out, two-run double and Blake DeWitt added an RBI single. Look for Broxton to get Wednesday off, with Vicente Padilla in place as a temporary closer, if needed. After that, who knows?
• Eduardo Sanchez got the call in the ninth for St. Louis and came through for the save, though it was a little hairy — he plunked Chris Coghlan and walked Hanley Ramirez. Sanchez saved his very best for last, whiffing Mike Stanton on three nasty sliders. For now, he's the most impressive man in this bullpen.
Jason Motte worked a clean eighth in a set-up role, while Fernando Salas was pressed into middle-relief work for the second straight appearance (2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 44 pitches). Salas owners will gladly take the relief victory, but apparently he's not in the closer mix for now. Then again, this is Tony La Russa's bullpen — everything is fluid here.
• Scott Sizemore's hot hitting in Triple-A carried over to the show — he stroked two singles and a double as the Tigers downed the Yanks. Sizemore's well-slotted for success — he'll bat second, two spots ahead of overlord Miguel Cabrera. Mark Teixeira had a solo homer for the Yanks; four of his eight taters this year have come against Detroit.
• Some nights we wonder how Brian Fuentes gets anyone out, and some nights we simply watch him get pounded. Tuesday was the latter, as the Indians knocked him around for four hits and three runs in a game-deciding rally. Hurry back, Andrew Bailey. At what point do we simply accept that the Indians are, legitimately, the favorites to win the AL Central? They're 4.5 games ahead of Kansas City, eight games up on Detroit, 10 ahead of Minnesota and 10.5 clear of the White Sox.
• The Phillies trotted out a new lineup in Tuesday's victory over the Nationals. Jimmy Rollins got the leadoff call (4-1-2-1, stolen base) while Placido Polanco hit third (3-0-0-1, walk). Cole Hamels went the route and was only touched by a Michael Morse solo homer; Hamels has been a lawnmower in his last five turns (four wins, six runs allowed, 37 strikeouts, eight walks) and might be one of the ten best starters in our make-believe game right now.
Mike Fontenot third on Tuesday, with a straight face apparently. He went 1-for-4 with a stolen base and two RBIs. Fontenot carries three positions of roto-eligibility, should the Giants actually settle on him as a semi-regular in the midst of the Pablo Sandoval injury (Fontenot has been playing short, with Miguel Tejada (a dog with different fleas) at third). … Nelson Cruz is dealing with a tight right quad, though he's hoping to miss just one additional game. … Luke Scott homers tend to come in bunches — he whacked his fourth in six games Tuesday. … Orlando Hudson's running show might be over, as he's dealing with a strained hamstring. He's considered day-to-day. … Pedro Alvarez has a sore quad, which could put his strikeouts on ice for a little bit. … It would be nice to see Mat Latos pitch deep in a game, but he was fine against the Pirates (6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K). Not dominant, maybe, but I'm not worried about this guy. He'll get two starts next week, though they come at Milwaukee and Colorado. … Carl Crawford knocked two hits (.194 and rising) and stole his fifth base as the Red Sox downed the Angels. Adrian Gonzalez has been locked in for a while and the homers will come; he hit his second Tuesday. … Jeff Francoeur hasn't changed his free-swinging ways but for the moment it doesn't matter; he clouted his seventh of the year in Tuesday's win over Baltimore. Frenchy also had the game-ending sacrifice fly in the tenth inning. … We're not clear of Justin Smoak pun overload: he had three hits and two RBIs in Tuesday's victory over the Rangers. His 36-percent ownership tag still looks low to me. … If you're here for Francisco Liriano's no-hit party, we direct you to our earlier Arcade offering.
Images courtesy Associated Press
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- Jason Bourgeois
- Jonathan Broxton