Posted on: August 18, 2011 4:50 pm

On Deck: Angels need Weaver to play stopper

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

WeaverCy Watch
: Jered Weaver allowed eight earned runs his last time out against the Blue Jays in his worst start on the year by far. That shot his ERA up to 2.13 from 1.78 and is quickly losing ground to Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race. Not only for that race does Weaver need to show up, but the Angels desperately need some help. Los Angeles is taking a five-game losing streak up against six straight for Texas, with Thursday night wrapping up a four-game series that has seen L.A. slip to seven games back. If the Angels want any hope of staying in the AL West race, a win tonight would be a good place to start. Colby Lewis goes for Texas. Rangers vs. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

ArizonaPhilliesTop dogs: The Phillies are 8 1/2 up against the Braves, with a 79-42 record good enough for first place in the division and in baseball. It's not as if the Braves are any slouches with 72 wins and the NL Wild Card race in hand, but Arizona is also in first place out in the NL West... with 69 victories. 'Zona goes up against Philadelphia looking to take the rubber game of the series and an outright win in the season series. Ian Kennedy has won seven consecutive starts and is after his 16th victory, which would lead the game. Vance Worley, meanwhile, is hoping to match Kennedy's run as he's won six straight -- but gave up six runs in four innings last time out. Diamondbacks vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

MastersonBattling out in the AL Central: This has already become a common refrain and figures to continue being one down the stretch, but there's a good battle set up between AL Central opponents. The Indians, two games behind the Tigers for the division lead, are attempting to fend off the White Sox, who are 3 1/2 behind Detroit. Cleveland has ace Justin Masterson lined up for battle against Phil Humber, who recently became a permanent member of the Sox's five-man rotation after the six-man rotation finally ended when Zach Stewart was moved to the bullpen. This is the rubber game of the three-game series, with eight games to come in September. "I know that every game means a lot because we're playing the White Sox and we're going to play Detroit, but there are so many games left that if we go day-by-day paying attention to that I'm going to get a heart attack," manager Manny Acta told the Associated Press. Indians vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 1:05 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Carmona steps up for Tribe

By Matt Snyder

Fausto Carmona, Indians. The offense deserves some credit for the four runs, too, because it was the first time White Sox starter Mark Buehrle allowed more than three earned runs in a game since April 22. But make no mistake about it, the burden was on Carmona here. The Indians had fallen to three games back of the Tigers and just a half-game in front of the White Sox. Also, the Indians were coming off a 14-inning loss where the starter only lasted 4 2/3 innings. The bullpen was taxed. Carmona went out Wednesday night and put the team on his back. He went 8 1/3 innings and allowed just four hits and one run in the victory. At one point he retired 11 straight White Sox hitters.

Kurt Suzuki, Athletics. The catcher got it done both with the bat and the glove. He hit two home runs in the A's one-run victory over the Orioles, and also made an impressive catch and tag at home plate on the would-be tying run to end the game.

The Texas Rangers. The Angels were apparently so terrified of falling seven games out in the AL West that Mike Scioscia tried to stretch Ervin Santana to nearly 130 pitches and it bit them. The game was tied at two as the Rangers scored twice against arguably the hottest pitcher in baseball while C.J. Wilson kept things in order from his end. Then Scioscia ran Santana back out there for the eighth and the Rangers loaded the bases ... and then Ian Kinsler singled home two. The Rangers are now 20 games over .500. They finished 18 games over .500 last year and went to the World Series.

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins. Coughing up 11 hits and 11 earned runs in a start is bad enough, but Nolasco did it in just three innings, as inconsistency remains his signature move. This was the third time this season Nolasco has given up at least eight earned runs and sixth time he's allowed five or more. Yet he's allowed one or less nine times. I'd have to imagine in seeing how good Nolasco can be, it only makes the awful outings that much more frustrating for the Marlins and their fans.

Jair Jurrjens, Braves. In his four starts between the All-Star break and the disabled list, Jurrjens had a 6.26 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. He returned to face an anemic Giants offense Wednesday night only to give up eight hits, two walks and five earned runs in his six innings of work. He only struck out one. The Braves probably don't need first-half Jurrjens to make the playoffs, but he'd sure help the chances at a World Series.

Jose Valverde/Wilson Betemit, Tigers. The Tigers went to their closer with a 4-4 tie in the top of the ninth Wednesday against the Twins and came out trailing by two. Both runs were unearned, but Valverde himself committed one of the errors, in addition to giving up the big two-run single to Justin Morneau. The Tigers' lead is now back to two over the Indians.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 10:22 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:24 pm

Pomeranz dazzles in organization debut

By Matt Snyder

When the Rockies sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians July 30, they received a solid return of prospects, with left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz and right-handed pitcher Alex White being the two major names.

Pomeranz, 22, couldn't immediately be announced, as he wasn't eligible to be traded until this week due to only being a year out of the draft (he was the Indians' 2010 first-rounder). So he wasn't pitching in game action as he waited around for the formality to come to fruition.

Finally, the deal went through this week and Pomeranz took the mound Wednesday night for Double-A Tulsa in his Rockies organizational debut. He certainly didn't perform like a pitcher who hadn't thrown in game action in over two weeks.

Pomeranz threw seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out four. Even more impressive was his efficiency, as he needed just 78 pitches -- 55 of which were strikes -- to get through his seven innings (MiLB.com box score).

Pomeranz now has a 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 21 strikeouts in 21 Double-A innings. He was utterly dominant in High-A to begin the season (1.87 ERA, 95 K in 77 innings), too. Granted, it's only his first professional season, but Pomeranz is certainly one to watch and might be figuring in the Rockies' rotation sooner rather than later. Perhaps even sometime in 2012? We'll see.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:53 am

Pepper: Signing deadline needs to be moved up

Bubba Starling

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The last couple of days showed us some of the best of baseball, five walkoffs on Tuesday, Jim Thome's 600th home run on Monday, triple plays both Monday and Tuesday and so much more. But Monday night we saw one of the things that needs to be fixed, and that's the signing deadline for draft picks.

Yesterday I touched on this, but I suggested just moving it from midnight to a more reasonable hour. That was a selfish wish. Hall of Famer George Brett tells the Kansas City Star that the deadline needs to be moved up more than a month to something like July 4.

The reason is simple, the development of players is stunted by a year and the posturing could hurt players. According to Brett, the Royals and Scott Boras, the "advisor" for their top pick, Bubba Starling, didn't even start talking until 10:30 p.m. on Monday night. The two sides then agreed to a deal with 20-40 seconds left, Brett said.

"If they made the deadline July 4, these guys would sign July 4 and the guy would jump on the plane and play some real baseball rather than go to Arizona when the season is almost over after not picking up a ball and a bat for how long … and playing football … he's not baseball ready," Brett told the newspaper. "It's going to take him a while." 

Instead of playing baseball and cashing checks, Starling was working out with the Nebraska football team as a negotiating ploy, showing that he was "serious" that he'd turn down millions of dollars to play football. He was also risking injury and his future with no guarantee.

That said, with the way money was thrown around on Monday night, it seems to make little sense to sign early. The teams showed that players who wait to sign until the deadline will be rewarded. An agent I spoke to on Tuesday said he's had players sign early in the past -- which is all well and good for the teams, but did he do his players' a disservice by not waiting until the end? In his previous cases, no, it was still the right thing to do. But next time? When the 27th player picked gets $800,000 above slot, the waiting game pays. That's not going to change, the way to fix that it to shorten the wait.

Pirates' booty: Speaking of the draft signings, the Pirates spent $17 million in signing bonuses for their draft picks. While there are negatives, for Pittsburgh, this is a positive. For many years teams like the Royals and Pirates wouldn't draft the best available player in the draft, instead drafting the best available player that would fit into their budget. The Royals gave Bubba Starling a huge contract and the Pirates gave out several, including an $8 million signing bonus to No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and $5 million for second-rounder Josh Bell. Last season we heard about how the Pirates weren't spending their luxury tax gains, but now we see an actual plan and owner Bob Nutting is putting money into the team. [MLB.com]

Right player, wrong position: Living in Cincinnati I've seen this before -- teams in MLB will often pick the best player available in the draft, regardless of position, now Yonder Alonso is in the big leagues with the Reds and has little to do because Joey Votto isn't going to sit the bench for him. The Nationals saw a player some considered to be the best in the draft fall to them and couldn't pass up Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, despite already having a 26-year-old at third base in Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals are happy to have Rendon and let that problem play out. [MASNSports.com]

Bundy eyes 2013: Orioles first-round pick Dylan Bundy said his plan is to be in the big leagues in 2013. The right-hander would be 20 in 2013. Brett would tell him if he was serious about that, he maybe should have signed sooner. [Baltimore Sun]

Overrated Howard: Baseball-Reference.com's Sean Forman made the argument in the New York Times that Philadelphia's Ryan Howard is not an elite hitter. The bigger argument was about overvaluing the RBI -- the stat that Howard provides much of Howard's worth. It does certainly help that he plays for the Phillies and has some pretty decent players in front of him in the lineup.

Umps visit kids: Jerry Meals may be Public Enemy No. 1 in Pittsburgh, but not to 3-year-old Emily Berger. Berger, who had undergone surgery on Monday, was one of the children visited by a group of MLB umpires to visit a children's hospital on Tuesday. Meals, who famously blew the call at home plate to end a 19-inning game in Atlanta for Pittsburgh loss, and the rest of his crew hosted a Build-A-Bear workshop for dozens of children. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Sizemore improving: The Indians hope Grady Sizemore can return next month after he started baseball activities on Tuesday as part of his rehab from a right knee injury and a sports hernia surgery. [MLB.com]

Granderson's rare feat: Curtis Granderson has a shot at leading the American League in homers and triples. The last player to do that was Jim Rice in 1978. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Mariners doing well: Jack Zduriencik won the offseason according to many before the 2010 season, and we saw how that worked. But even with that in hindsight, it appears Zduriencik has had a good couple of weeks despite his team's fall in the standings over the last two months. [Seattle Times]

More Thome: If you haven't had enough of Jim Thome (and really, it's not like we've even got to a tenth of the DJ3K madness yet), his hometown paper, the Peoria JournalStar put together a fantastic package looking back on his life and career. Make sure you check it out.

Give the people what they want: Nice job by the Brewers' promotion department with the announcement of  "Tony Plush Rally Towels" for the Sept. 9 game against the Phillies. "Tony Plush" is the "gentleman's name" of outfielder Nyjer Morgan. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Bashing Boise: No, not the Broncos and their "Smurf turf," but the city's Class A team -- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said Boise's Memorial Stadium is "below standard." [Chicago Tribune]

Pros vs. G.I. Joes: Some White Sox players are playing video games with soldiers online. [MLB.com]

Hi, bye: Outfielder Jonny Gomes was traded from the Reds to the Nationals last month, but he wasn't informed until just before the Reds' game started, meaning he wasn't able to say goodbye to his teammates in Cincinnati. Now a member of the Nationals, Gomes got to say both hello and goodbye to the Reds when the team started their series in Washington. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Cut those sideburns: Monday was the 20th anniversary of Don Mattingly sitting out a game for refusing to cut his hair. [MLB.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 1:37 am

3 Up, 3 Down: All late inning heroics

By Matt Snyder

Six teams won Tuesday after scoring in their final at-bat, so let's stick with those as the theme of 3 Up, 3 Down.

Lyle Overbay, Diamondbacks. Amazing how things work out sometimes. Heading to the trade deadline, the Pirates were actually in the race for once and looked to upgrade at first base. They ended up trading for Derrek Lee, which made Overbay expendible. He was set free and ended up with Arizona. Now the Pirates have completely fallen out of the race after a miserable stretch and the Diamondbacks are in first place. Tuesday night, Overbay went 3-4 with all three of the D-Backs' RBIs, including a two-RBI double in the ninth off Roy Halladay. The Snakes beat the Phillies 3-2 and are now 3 1/2 games in front of the Giants.

Mark Kotsay, Brewers. He only got one at-bat, but that's all he needed. Kotsay came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and the score tied 1-1. He planted a Mike MacDougal offering into center field for a line drive, walk-off single. The Brewers extended their lead to seven games in the NL Central and have won 17 of their last 19.

Brian Bogusevic, Astros. Like Kotsay, all Bogusevic needed was one bases-loaded at-bat to produce a walk-off win, but unlike Kotsay, Bogusevic drove home four, not just one. Cubs closer Carlos Marmol allowed two singles and a walk before Bogusevic stepped to the plate with his team trailing by three. He went ahead and hit a walk-off grand slam to save the Astros from an eighth consecutive loss.

Arthur Rhodes/Tony La Russa, Cardinals. Rhodes was signed by the Cardinals to get left-handers out, yet he yielded a walk-off homer to the Pirates' Garrett Jones -- who is, yes, left-handed -- Tuesday night. Of course, members of the media who cover the Cardinals pointed out after the game it was the third straight night La Russa used the 41 year old and that Rhodes is best served in short doses. Tuesday, he got two outs to end the 10th and La Russa trotted him back out there for the 11th. Jones was the first batter Rhodes faced in the 11th. So who was at fault? You make the call. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have fallen seven games back of the Brewers and that race looks like it will be a mere formality quite soon.

Giants offense. In sticking with the theme, the Giants lost in walk-off fashion Tuesday night. Still, it's hard to blame the pitchers. The Giants got no-hit by a rookie -- with big upside, but it was still only his second career start -- for six innings before getting a solo home run from Cody Ross. In 11 innings, that would be their only run. They only had five hits. They've fallen 3 1/2 back of the red-hot Diamondbacks and are threatening to fall behind the Mariners for the least amount of runs scored in the majors. Something better change, fast.

Indians vs. White Sox. Are these two teams seriously in the race? This marathon game was a comedy of misplayed balls, stranded runners, poor baserunning, blown leads and pretty much everything else under the sun. Of course there was good from each side -- some timely hitting and good pitching performances -- but it was predominantly bad and I'd guess most fans of either team would agree. On the Indians side, Shin-Soo Choo was awful in right field, playing two balls into triples and misplaying a few others. They left 11 men on base -- including leaving them loaded in the 13th -- and got a bad outing from Ubaldo Jimenez. On the White Sox end, Will Ohman came in and walked two straight batters -- the second one forced in the tying run -- before recording his lone out of the game. A leadoff triple was wasted in extra innings when Brent Lillibridge was doubled off first on a lineout. Sergio Santos blew a save prior to that to send it to extras. Oh, and they left 15 men on base. But hey, the White Sox won and crept to within a half-game of the Indians for second place in the AL Central. So all is well that ends well for them. (Note: LOB numbers were by my unofficial count. I could be off by one or two. Regardless, it was bad).

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 4:46 pm

On Deck: Eyeing three races


By Matt Snyder

We've already had one game Tuesday, but there's a full slate of 15 at night, thanks to the Red Sox and Rays having a double-header. Remember to keep those eyes glued on the CBSSports.com live scoreboard for all the action.

Watching the AL Central: The Tigers have lost two straight while the Indians and White Sox have each won two in a row. That means the Tigers have a two game lead over the Indians and 3 1/2 over the White Sox. The latter two square off Tuesday night, so the Tigers need a win of their own to keep up with whichever team wins. They certainly have the right man on the hill, as it's Justin Verlander's (17-5, 2.35) turn in the rotation. Verlander dominated the Twins -- Tuesday's opponent -- in one previous outing this season. Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.36) starts for the Twins. Meanwhile the Indians send their new ace to the hill against the White Sox, as Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.37) faces off against Gavin Floyd (10-10, 4.35) of the White Sox. Twins at Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET; Indians at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET.

Watching the NL West: The Giants were in position to trim the Diamondbacks' lead to 1 1/2 games last night, but Brian Wilson's beard blew a save and the deficit is now 2 1/2. Fortunately for the Giants, the D-Backs have a tall order Tuesday night against Roy Halladay (15-4, 2.51) and the Phillies, who sport the best record in baseball by 4 1/2 games. Josh Collmenter (7-7, 3.51) is tasked with keeping his Arizona club close. The Giants have it a bit easier, but not by much. They're facing off against the Braves, who are tied for the second-best record in the National League. They're also sending the fickle Jonathan Sanchez (4-7, 4.29) to the mound. Rookie Randall Delgado starts for the Giants. The 21 year old only has three career starts above the Double-A level. Of note here, the Braves have won six consecutive regular-season games against the Giants. Diamondbacks at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET; Giants at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET.

Watching the AL West: The Rangers traveled to Los Angeles for a four-game series against the Angels Monday, and came out and beat the Angels Monday night. The victory gave the Rangers a five-game lead in the AL West, and it's getting a bit late in the season to chase more than two series' worth a deficit. Translation: The Angels need to win at least two of these next three games, which would get it back to a four-game deficit. If they can win all three, the Rangers' lead would be trimmed down to two. Of course, if the Rangers came out and swept the Angels, the eight-game lead would likely be insurmountable. Tuesday night a pair of young arms are pitted against one another as the Rangers go with Derek Holland (10-4, 4.30) and the Angels send Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.07) to the mound. Rangers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 5:21 pm

Hannahan's Indians teammates have his back

Jack HannahanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After a couple of days of talking about Carlos Zambrano, let's look at the other side of the good teammate spectrum -- the tale of the Cleveland Indians and Jack Hannahan.

Hannahan is in his first year with the Indians, and after a hot start is hitting .214/.301/.331 with five home runs and 23 RBI in parts of 86 games. He's one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, and by all accounts a really good guy and teammate. However, he's not alone in the "good teammate" category in Cleveland.

Earlier this month the Indians were in Boston and Hannahan's agent Joe Speed got a call from Hannahan's mother that his wife was having contractions and my go into labor in a matter of hours.

Jenny Hannahan had been regulated to bed rest for nearly a month at this point, despite being barely in her third trimester of pregnancy. With Jack Hannahan and the Indians in Boston, it was apparent that the night was near.

So even while Hannahan was at bat in the game, Speed booked the first flight in the morning out of Logan airport in Boston back to Cleveland, even knowing that would likely be too late. His next step was calling about private planes. They were available, but they cost $35,000. Even though Hannahan has a contract for $500,000 this year, $35,000 is still seven percent of his annual salary -- that's a lot of money on a gamble that it would be the night Jenny gave birth.

After Hannahan was notified after the game of what was going on, he considered that, because it was the only way he'd be getting back to Cleveland before the morning. However, the price tag was just too high for the fiscally conservative Hannahan.

At some point after the game, teammate Justin Masterson asked Hannahan what was happening and as soon as Hannahan told him, Masterson told him get the private jet.

"Book it," Masterson told Hannahan, according to Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press. When Hannahan balked, Masterson insisted.

At that point, Masterson passed around a hat, getting donations from teammates. And pretty quickly, they had the $35,000 covered -- call it a baby shower gift from his teammates.

Hannahan booked the plane and once it landed in Cleveland, there was a limo waiting for him at the airport to take him to the hospital. Hannahan finally got to his wife at 3 a.m. and just 15 minutes later, John Joseph Hannahan V was born.

Although the youngest Hannahan was born prematurely and weighed just two pounds, 11 ounces at birth, Speed said son, mother and father are all doing well now, even though Hannahan's son has yet to come home.

These days you don't often get stories about the good guys -- instead I'll spend 10 hours writing 12 different stories on the actions of jerks -- but every once in a while you get a story like this, a good guy being helped out by more good guys. The Indians are two games back in the American League Central going into Tuesday night, but it's hard to think they're anywhere but first (or at least tied for it) in class. 

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 10:38 am

Choo back, Kearns designated for assignment

Shin-Soo ChooBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Indians welcome back one outfielder and say goodbye to another, announcing on Twitter that they've activated Shin-Soo Choo from the disabled list and designated Austin Kearns for assignment.

Choo had been on the disabled list since June 25 with a fractured left thumb. Choo played in two games for Class A Lake County, going hitless in six at-bats. Choo was having a disappointing 2011, hitting .244/.333/.353 with five homers in 72 games this season.

Austin KearnsKearns was a great spring training story. He had a good 2010, hitting .272/.354/.419 in 84 games for the Indians before being traded to the Yankees for the stretch run. After the season, Kearns was a free agent and returned to the team that gave him a chance, Cleveland.

However, Kearns just wasn't the same in 2011. The 31-year-old former first-round pick was hitting .200/.302/.287 in 57 games for the Indians with just two home runs.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com