Closing Time: What's the frequency, Johan?

There's no reason to force a theme on you tonight – obviously June 30, 2009 will go down in world history as the day the Yankees acquired Eric Hinske. If the shock has worn off from that deal and you're ready to move onto other stories and players, enjoy the bulleted content below.

It's time to start collecting theories on Johan Santana's(notes) slump. He lost again at Milwaukee Tuesday (6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K), and he has just 18 strikeouts over his last six turns (to go along with a 6.19 ERA and 1.57 WHIP, the worst full month of his career). Is his surgically-repaired left knee giving him a problem? Is it a blister? Is he tipping his pitches? Perhaps it's a concentration issue – somehow, Santana has issued five walks to opposing pitchers over the course of the year. Let's collect as much intelligence as possible and get through this together, gamers. Santana's next turn comes on the weekend at Philadelphia.

The Rangers finally had a laugher at Arlington, throwing nine runs, four homers and five steals at Joe Saunders(notes) and the Angels. Marlon Byrd(notes) slugged two of the homers, while Elvis Andrus(notes) swiped four of the bags. The only Texas starter left out of the fun was, predictably, Chris Davis(notes); he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and is down to .202. What would it take to get this guy benched or demoted?

Derek Lowe(notes) took a step forward with a quality start against the Phillies (6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K), though the execution wasn't as tidy as the numbers might suggest. Lowe's command was off most of the night – although he had just two unintentional walks, he was missing his target consistently – and the Phillies had him in trouble just about every inning. It's too early to say the sky is falling on this established pro, but at this point I'm expecting that his end-of-year ERA will be 4.00 or higher and everyone knows there's not a lot of strikeout upside here. If he beats Washington on the weekend, get aggressive and downshift into sell mode.

Jason Marquis(notes) continues to have a snappy little season that no one believes in. He threw a gem of a game at Chavez Ravine Tuesday night (two-hit shutout, 66 of 86 pitches were strikes), improving to 10-5 on the year, and yet he can't get a shred of respect in the fantasy community. Marquis has been on the NL Tout Wars trading block all season without a nibble, and in an NL-West-only mini draft this week that included 25 pitchers being selected, Marquis's name never came up.

Marquis has outperformed his FIP to this point but it's not a huge gap (4.36 vs. 4.22 entering Tuesday night), and a major ground-ball spike this year (57.2 percent) has kept him out of trouble more often than not. It's never easy recommending a low-strikeout arm or a Coors Field pitcher, but I've finally accepted that this Marquis run isn't one giant fluke.

The surging George Sherrill(notes) grabbed save No. 17 on Tuesday, stranding a couple of Boston runners and putting the caps on a crazy win for the Orioles (Boston led 10-1 at one juncture, then watched the hosts score 10 runs in the seventh and eighth innings). If the Baltimore front office is thinking proactively, it will realize how fungible relief pitching can be and aggressively shop Sherrill at the trade deadline; he must be impressing some other clubs right now, given that he's been scored on just once in his last 21 appearnces. Star center fielder Adam Jones(notes) wasn't a part of Tuesday's rally; he left the game early after crashing into the outfield wall. We'll check on his shoulder and neck Wednesday.

Injury Blog: The second opinion on Carlos Beltran's(notes) knee came back positive – he's merely got a bone bruise, apparently, and although a timetable hasn't been set yet, the club is hoping he'll be able to come back after the All-Star break. … Josh Hamilton(notes) (abdomen) remains on pace to potentially rejoin the Rangers this weekend, with Saturday being the earliest day the Rangers would get him back. The key test comes Thursday, when he'll get aminor-league start in the outfield. … Adrian Gonzalez(notes) left Tuesday's game with a strained right knee; we'll see what we learn on this Wednesday. … Scott Downs(notes) (toe) had a little discomfort during his bullpen session Tuesday but nothing major. He's probably week-to-week at this point. … Rather than consider Mike Lowell(notes) (hip) day-to-day for an extended period of time, the Red Sox decided to put him on the DL and pick up a healthy body for the interim. He shouldn't be out past the minimum rest time. … The Mariners think they might have Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) ready to go Saturday against Boston (on a limited pitch count, per the Seattle Times), but Adrian Beltre(notes) (shoulder) finally had surgery and is gone for 6-8 weeks. … Nate McLouth(notes) (hamstring) and Yunel Escobar(notes) (hip) remain absent from the top of the Atlanta order, though each player took BP Tuesday and were in the preliminary lineup. … Matt Lindstrom's(notes) elbow apparently isn't in such terrible shape, and he might be able to begin a throwing program this weekend according to the Miami Herald. While he's getting right, Fredi Gonzalez will continue to mix and match in the ninth inning, with Dan Meyer(notes) and Leo Nunez(notes) getting most of the consideration. … Chipper Jones(notes) tok an awkward swing during his second at-bat Tuesday and briefly slumped to the ground in discomfort, but he wasn't forced out of the game. When we're talking about a player with Chipper's recent physical history, you take every nick and tweak seriously.

Speed Round: Jimmy Rollins(notes) was back in the Philly lineup but with the same old results - 0-for-5, two strikeouts. He's hitless over his last 24 trips. … Everybody gets hit sometimes department – Chris Carpenter(notes) (5 IP, 11 H, 6 R) didn't have it against the Giants, and Cliff Lee(notes) was batting practice for the White Sox (3 IP, 11 H, 7 R) . . . Albert Pujols(notes) (two more homers) isn't from this planet, and that's all I have to say about that. … Ryan Theriot(notes) was dropped to the No. 8 spot against Pittsburgh. He had one of Chicago's six hits on the night in the shutout loss; the unassuming Ross Ohlendorf(notes) had his way with the Cubs offense (7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K). … Brandon Morrow's(notes) return to the starting rotation continues to be a work in progress; his messiest start to date came Tuesday at Yankee Stadium (4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K). He's yet to work more than five innings since the change came a few weeks ago. … J.P. Howell(notes) worked for the fourth time in five games and put away the Jays with a scoreless ninth inning. … It took a little while for Gordon Beckham(notes) to get comfortable, but he's been swinging sweetly for the White Sox over the last five days (10-for-17, with a homer and bag thrown in). He's up to .267 over 75 at-bats.


Images via Associated Press