Tag:Johnny Cueto
Posted on: July 9, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:07 pm

On Deck: Marcum/Cueto battle, Gonzalez hurt

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

RedsBrewersBEST MATCHUP: There's a real nice game brewing in Milwaukee, with Johnny Cueto's breakout season going up against the stingy Shaun Marcum. While Cueto had an extended stint on the disabled list earlier this season, he's been nothing but incredible when on the mound, as his pristine 1.77 ERA in 11 starts indicates, with two complete games. The 25-year-old could finally be putting it all together. Meanwhile, Marcum has done all he can to keep the Brewers in contention despite an offense missing depth -- in addition to a brutal defense. Marcum has a solid 3.32 ERA and needs to win to avoid the potential eye-popping occurrence of the Pirates being tied for first place this late into the year. The Cardinals are also just a game behind while Cincy is trying to scrape itself out of a 44-46 hole that has them in fourth. Reds vs. Brewers, 7:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

GonzalezGONZALEZ DINGED: The Rockies will not have Carlos Gonzalez as he will sit out Saturday's game -- and possibly Sunday's -- with a sore right wrist, as the Denver Post reports. His wrist was originally injured this past Sunday and Friday was his first day back. The wrist started hurting when he turned on an inside fastball in Friday's game, and the pain hasn't dissipated. On Saturday, the Rockies will toss Ubaldo Jimenez against Jason Marquis. Despite similar ERAs and team records, Jimenez's record sits at 3-8 while the Nationals' hurler is 7-3. With a win and a Mets loss, Washington could move to within a half-game of third place while Colorado is in the midst of a losing streak that has them in danger of slipping to fourth place. Rockies vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

CarpenterHOT CARPENTER: Chris Carpenter stepped up during the absence of Albert Pujols and has pitched like the Carpenter we've become used to, allowing just two runs over his last three starts which comprise 24 innings. On Saturday, he'll go after Arizona, a team he last faced on April 12, surrendering eight runs in just four innings in what was easily his worst start of the year. For Arizona's part, it could possibly be one of the final games for either Juan Miranda or Xavier Nady, as GM Kevin Towers appears to be leaning toward making a move at first base, as the Arizona Republic reports. Unhappy with their production at first base, Brandon Allen or Paul Goldschmidt could get the call from the farm after the All-Star break. Daniel Hudson will oppose Carpenter. Diamondbacks vs. Cardinals, 7:15 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 1:01 pm

On Deck: Jeter returns; fireworks in St. Louis?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Derek JeterJETER RETURNS: You may have heard by now, but Derek Jeter is on his way back. The Yankee captain is expected to start at shortstop and leadoff for the Yankees today against Cleveland's Josh Tomlin (9-4, 3.86 ERA). Jeter is 2 for 6 lifetime against the right-hander. Jeter hasn't played since leaving a game against the Indians on June 13 with a strained right calf. On June 12, Jeter had two singles off of Tomlin, driving in two runs in a 9-1 Yankee victory. The Yankees are 14-4 in 18 games without Jeter. Yankees at Indians, 6:35 p.m. ET (Follow live)

BAD BLOOD: Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto makes his first start in St. Louis since his part in a benches-clearing brawl last August at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Not only that, he's facing off the same pitcher that started that game for St. Louis, Chris Carpenter. Cueto was suspended seven games after kicking at players after he was pinned against the backstop. Carpenter was among those on the other end of Cueto's spikes and showed off scratches and scrapes on his back. Carpenter said Cueto's actions would have consequences "on the street." We'll see if he goes all 'hood on Cueto when the Reds' pitcher has to bat. The two teams also had words the last time they met, May 15 at Great American Ball Park when Reds closer Francisco Cordero hit Albert Pujols in the ninth inning of the Reds' final game of a three-game sweep. Cardinals backup catcher Gerald Laird, bench coach Joe Pettini and pitching coach Dave Duncan took offense and screamed at Cordero and other Reds players from the bench. Reds at Cardinals, 6:15 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Rays ON TARGET: The Rays have won six of seven games against the Twins this season and all three games played at Target Field. Tampa Bay has won its last five games in Minnesota and have to feel good with David Price on the mound. The All-Star lefty is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA and is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four appearances all-time (three starts) against the Twins. The Twins counter with lefty Brian Duensing, who is 5-7 with a 4.69 ERA but hast the team's lone win against the Rays this season, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings on April 17 at Tropicana Field. Rays at Twins, 2:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:18 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Pepper: No pinstripes for Reyes?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller joins Lauren Shihadi to talk about a pair of struggling aces, the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Giants' Tim Lincecum.

REYES WON'T BE A YANKEE: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team would not acquire Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, either in a trade or as a free agent.

"That's just not going to happen," Cashman told Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News.

"We have an everyday shortstop in Derek Jeter," he added. "And I think we have an everyday shortstop that would be playing for a lot of clubs in Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees don't have a need now or in the future for a shortstop.

"But we do need a setup man."

Like Rafael Soriano, another player Cashman said the team didn't have any interest in signing?

SPEAKING OF: I understand baseball memorabilia, I really do. I mean, I own a game-worn Dick Pole jersey. But a dirt keychain? After Jeter's 3,000th hit, five gallons of dirt will be dug up from the batter's box and shortstop patch and sold off in various forms. The "DJ 3K" merchandise line will include not just dirt (which will be infused into key chains, plastic disks paired with photos and in bats among other items), but also the usual T-shirts, hats, jerseys, bobbleheads, patches, balls and even necklaces. [New York Times]

TEAM PLAYER: Mark Ellis understands Jemile Weeks is a talent who will help the A's, and that's why he's volunteered to step away from his second base spot.

"He made it very easy on me," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters, including Jane Lee of MLB.com. "You would, to an extent, expect that, but to the extent and the level he went, for me, was off the charts. The first thing I said to him was, 'OK, the second-base situation,' and he said, 'That's an easy one, you gotta play him.'"

Ellis is known as one of the good guys of the game, and this is another piece of evidence in that case. Ellis will play first and third for the A's, but the team's longest-tenured player won't be penciled in every day as he has been.

The 34-year-old Ellis is hitting just .210/.244/.286 in 60 games. Weeks has made the most of his opportunity when Ellis went not he DL, hitting .321/.357/.509 in the first 14 games of his big-league career.

Ellis has pride, but he understands that Weeks is a talent. In the end, that's the biggest thing -- players recognize talent. If his replacement was just someone hot, Ellis would unlikely step aside so easily, but Weeks is someone who can help the team in the long term. Ellis knows it. It can't be easy to put the ego aside like that, but he did. Hats off to Ellis.

As a side note, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle cites an "industry insider" as saying there's a "very good chance" Ellis will be traded across the San Francisco Bay to the Giants. Ellis is a free agent after the season, and with Weeks on board, it's unlikely he'll be back in Oakland next season.

PHANATIC HURT: Tom Burgoyne, the man inside the green Phillie Phanatic costume, was released from a Pennsylvania hospital Wednesday night after being hit in the head by a batted ball during a minor-league appearance at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. [Allentown Morning Call]

WELCOME BACK: The surging Twins will add DH Jim Thome and former closer Joe Nathan on Friday. Thome had five at-bats Wednesday in a simulated game at the team's complex in Fort Myers, Fla. Nathan struck out three Wednesday and allowed an unearned run, a walk and a hit in one inning for Triple-A Rochester. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

EL TIANTE JR.: Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto added a little tweak to his delivery for Wednesday's start against the Yankees, turning his back to the hitter more than he has in the past. It worked, as he held the Yankees to two hits and one run in seven innings.

"I've been doing it, but I did it a little more tonight," Cueto told reporters, including the Cincinnati Enquirer's Tom Groeschen. "I'm trying to make it tough to see the baseball, so I'm hiding it real good now."

How good? Cueto improved to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.63 this season. Batters are hitting just .193/.261/.297 against Cueto this season.

PEAVY, PIERZYNSKI OK: White Sox starter Jake Peavy and catcher A.J. Pierzynski had a heated argument that was caught on live TV in the dugout, and the two headed into the tunnel to escape the cameras. Afterward, both joked about the incident and said they were OK. [MLB.com]

ROX SEEK ARMS: Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said the team -- 3 1/2 games out of first in the NL West -- will look for pitching to help fill the void left by the loss of Jorge De La Rosa. Good luck finding someone like that. [MLB.com]

END OF THE LINE?: Veteran right-hander John Maine left the Rockies' Triple-A team after a bad start Monday and will use the time to decide whether he will retire or continue his comeback from shoulder surgery last season. The 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts this season. [InsidetheRockies.com]

GLOVE STORY: Last week Yankees starter Brian Gordon became the first Major League player to use a non-leather glove in a game. Gordon uses a synthetic glove handmade by a guy in Cooperstown, N.Y. [MLB.com]

THREE TRUE OUTCOMES: You hear that phrase pretty often, especially talking about Adam Dunn, as a player who seems to either hit a home run, strike out or walk in every plate appearance. Thanks to the beauty of computers, the Baseball-Reference.com blog has the 25 players (ranked by plate appearances) whose total homers plus walks plus strikeouts were at least 60 percent of their career plate appearances. Dunn is on the list, as are Thome, Carlos Pena, Ryan Howard and Rob Deer.

MLB EXPANSION?: No, not of teams -- of rosters. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN looks at both sides of the proposition. While Crasnick writes mostly about an extra position player, I can't imagine Tony La Russa not wanting another reliever in his bullpen just so he could make another pitching change in the sixth inning.

YANKEE STRIPPER, PART 2: The other man in a vintage photo of Joe DiMaggio has been identified, so we can put that to rest. Rugger Ardizoia said the picture was taken in spring training of 1941 when he was a minor leaguer with the Yankees and his fellow San Francisco native, DiMaggio, "took care" of him. [San Francisco Chronicle]

EXPOS BOOK: Jonah Keri, the author of the excellent book about the Tampa Bay Rays, The Extra 2%, will next tackle The Definitive History of the Montreal Expos. The book won't drop until 2014 -- the 10-year anniversary of the Expos' move -- but that doesn't mean it can't go on my Amazon wish list now. Or, well, as soon as Amazon has it listed. [JonahKeri.com]

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 5:30 pm

Reds scratch Cueto

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Johnny CuetoThe Reds scratched Johnny Cueto from tonight's start against the Yankees, replacing him with left-hander Travis Wood, Tuesday's scheduled starter.

Cueto said his neck is sore and has been bothering him since his last start, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enqurier writes.

Cueto told Fay he may still start tomorrow. Wood is on his normal rest because of last Thursday's off-day.

"We knew yesterday," Reds manager Dusty Baker told Fay. "He felt better yesterday. But what happens if he goes out there and starts feeling it again in the second or third inning? Then my bullpen is all torn up.

"What made it an easy decision is this is Woody's normal day. Had it not been his normal day, then we would have had a different decision to make. As it is, Johnny will go tomorrow. There's not much difference from today to tomorrow. But, in terms of health, a lot of times that 24-hour period of hands on and loving care has a lot to do with it." 

Cueto is quietly having a very good season for the Reds. After starting the season on the disabled list and missing the first month with irritation in his right biceps and triceps, he has gone 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA in eight starts to go along with a 1.006 WHIP.

Wood has suffered a bit of a sophomore slump, going 5-4 with a 5.11 ERA. He has pitched well in his last two starts, combining to go 14 innings and allowing three earned runs in a no-decision against the Giants and a victory over the Dodgers.

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Posted on: June 18, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 7:57 pm

Reds, Phillips haven't discussed extension

Brandon Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds are expected to pick up Brandon Phillips' $12 million option for next season, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.

The team hasn't spoken to Phillips about an extension, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said, but didn't rule it out.

"He's got an option," Jocketty told Fay. "That's what options are for. We might try to get something done later."

Earlier this week, Phillips told Amy K. Nelson of ESPN that it would be "hard to keep me here," when asked about his future in Cincinnati. He added, "I'm not trying to break the bank. I'm just trying to be fair. I don't want Jayson Werth money or CC Sabathia money."

That's a little different than what Phillips has repeatedly told the Cincinnati media for the last couple of years. When speaking to Cincinnati people, he's always said he wants to stay in Cincinnati and follow in the footsteps of his boyhood idol, former Reds great Barry Larkin.

He reiterated his desire to finish his career as a Red when speaking to Fay on Saturday.

"I told the Reds and the whole world this is where I want to be," Phillips said. "If it doesn't happen, I'm going to be very, very disappointed. I feel like I've made this a second home. I bought a house here. This is where I want to be, man. The fans just took me in. I feel like I need to stay here and give back.

"Hopefully, it happens. If it doesn't happen this year, I feel in my head and my heart, it's not going to happen."

Phillips has not only made himself a fan favorite through his use of Twitter, but has also donated enough money to help rebuild a local youth baseball field through the Reds Community Fund. He's backed his talk up with actions off the field, to be sure.

Atlanta signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a five-year, $62 million deal this past offseason. Uggla has more power than Phillips, but Phillips is a better all-around player. Philips won his second Gold Glove last season and has been even better defensively this year. His batting average and on-base percentage are about the same as they were a year ago -- and better than his career averages -- but his slugging percentage has taken a dip, as he's hitting .280/.338/.387 this season with five home runs. He hit 30 homers in 2007 and his home run numbers have dropped each season since. 

Phillips will be 30 later this month, so any extension will take that into consideration.

Last year the Reds showed they are willing to pick up a questionable high-priced option when they picked up Bronson Arroyo's $11.5 million option before spinning that into a three-year, $35 million extension.

Phillips will probably be looking for something similar, although he's possibly worth more.

Uggla's contract will be one comparison, but the Reds could point to Rickie Weeks, who signed a four-year, $38.5 million extension heading into this season. Weeks has outperformed Phillips at the plate this season (although, Phillips is much, much better defensively). Phillips has also been much more durable than Weeks, who has played more than 130 games just once in his career, while Phillips has played at least 140 games in every season since coming to the Reds in 2006.

Phillips has the second-highest salary in the game for a second baseman, trailing only Chase Utley.

The Reds' payroll is at $80 million this season -- but they have Francisco Cordero's $12.125 million coming off the books after this season. The team also has raises coming to Arroyo, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce. Votto's signed through 2013, his last season before he's eligible for free agency. He gets a $4 million raise for 2012 and $7.5 million raise to $19 million in 2013. Bruce also has an increased salary for each of the next five seasons.

Reds owner Bob Castellini has said he could afford to keep the core of his team only if the team's attendance picked up after their National League Central run of a season ago. So far this season, the Reds are averaging 24,230 fans a game at Great American Ball Park, which is actually down from last season's average of 25,438. The average should increase as school lets out for the summer, but if there's a big enough increase in attendance for Castellini to keep his word is still to be seen.

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 1:35 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Big Game James

By Matt Snyder

James Shields, Rays. Since Shields threw a shutout on May 22, he was 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA in his next three starts. Sure, two of them weren't awful and one was -- skewing the small sample numbers a bit -- but he wasn't throwing the ball near as well as he was earlier in the season. His task Tuesday night was to face the now-mighty Red Sox, who entered the game with a nine-game winning streak -- one in which they'd averaged about nine runs per game. After a shaky first, where Shields left the bases loaded, he settled in and threw a complete-game shutout. The victory moved the Rays to within 3 1/2 games of the Red Sox. Shields has already set the Rays record with three shutouts in a season and is the fastest to three shutouts in the AL since Randy Johnson and David Cone in 1994.

Domonic Brown, Phillies. The Phillies slugged five home runs en route to a 9-1 victory of the disappearing Marlins, but the highlight was Brown's upper tank shot in the seventh. It was not only majestic, but also his second blast of the game. As too many long-time members of the lineup get closer to being too old, the 23-year-old outfielder provides a glimpse into the future.

Johnny Cueto, Reds. As the Reds creep closer to the NL Central leaders -- we'll get to them in a moment -- they can definitely start to feel very confident when one member of the rotation gets the ball each turn. Cueto has now thrown 14 consecutive innings without having allowed an earned run and his ERA has shrunk to 1.68 through eight starts and 53 2/3 innings. Coming out and giving an effort like Tuesday night's -- seven innings, five hits, five strikeouts, zero earned runs -- against Clayton Kershaw is the stuff aces are made of.

Also: Don't forget to give props to Justin Verlander for shutting out the Indians and moving the Tigers into first place. It's just that it's not really surprising anymore.

Alexi Ogando, Rangers. So much for that sparkling ERA, WHIP and undefeated record. Ogando entered Tuesday with a 7-0 record, 2.10 ERA and MLB-best 0.898 WHIP. He couldn't even get out of the second Tuesday, though. The Yankees tuned him up for six earned runs on six hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings. This came after a 1-2-3 first inning, too. Ogando now has a 12.38 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in Yankee Stadium this season. Everywhere else? 1.68 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Fortunately for him and the Rangers, this will be his last outing in the Bronx this season -- well, unless he has to pitch there in the playoffs. If it comes to that, they'll surely find a way to avoid throwing him in his house of horrors.

Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. The DL-stint may have cured his back, but it didn't do much to alter the path this disaster of a season has taken for the star shortstop. Ramirez returned to the lineup in the leadoff spot and proceeded to go 0-4 with two strikeouts. Granted it wasn't exactly an easy matchup against a locked-in Cole Hamels, but it certainly wasn't encouraging for Ramirez, either.

Brewers', Cardinals' bullpens. As the two teams fight for the top of the NL Central, they seem to be going out of their way to blow late leads. Tuesday, they each coughed up leads against sub-par teams. The Cardinals held a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh against the Nationals. Miguel Batista, Trever Miller and Jason Motte combined to allow five hits, three walks, a hit-by-pitch and six earned runs. Yes, that was all in one inning. Most of the damage was allowed by Batista, but Miller hit the only guy he faced and Motte let two inherited runners cross home plate. Not to be outdone, Marco Estrada of the Brewers gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth to the Cubs. The big blow was an Aramis Ramirez two-run home run, which tied the score at four and eventually sent the game to extra innings. In the 10th, Tim Dillard allowed a Tony Campana double, a sacrifice and a Starlin Castro single to lose the game. The Brewers have now lost two in a row to the Cubs. The Cardinals have lost four straight. They're tied atop the Central, though the Reds and Pirates are in striking distance. Meltdowns like Tuesday are the reason no one has pulled away.

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:19 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Dunn goes deep

By Matt Snyder

Adam Dunn, White Sox. He's still on pace to have the worst season of his career by a huge margin, but Dunn's gotta be pretty happy with his performance Thursday night. After two games off, he returned to the lineup and slugged his sixth home run of the season -- his first since May 24.

Alex Avila, Tigers. Avila tripled twice in the Tigers' victory. He's a catcher, as we know, so a two-triple game has to be a rarity, right? According to Baseball-Reference.com, this was the 75th time a catcher has hit two triples since 1919. It was the 18th time in the past 40 years. The 24 year old, who was really only made the starter due to his defense, is now hitting .297 with nine homers, 33 RBI, 13 doubles and three triples. He's got a real shot to play in the All-Star Game.

Johnny Cueto, Reds. Cueto stifled the Giants Thursday night in his best start of the season. He worked seven shutout innings, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out eight and picking up the win. It was the first scoreless appearance by a Reds starter since Homer Bailey's May 10 outing. The start also marked the sixth quality start in seven tries for Cueto, who lowered his ERA to 1.93 and could really be emerging as the ace of the Reds' deep staff. The win kept the Reds five games out in the NL Central.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. If the Dodgers score seven runs for their young ace -- especially against the recently-punchless Rockies -- it should be an easy victory. Instead, Kershaw just didn't have it Thursday night in the thin air of Coors Field. He gave up seven hits, three walks and six earned runs in six innings.

Trevor Cahill, A's. The manager change didn't help in Game 1 of the Bob Melvin era for Oakland. The A's were worked over by the White Sox, 9-4, and ace Trevor Cahill was beaten down in less than three innings of work. Cahill was only able to get through 2 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, three walks and six earned runs. He's now 0-4 with a 5.35 ERA in his last six starts -- and the A's are 0-6 in those starts. You're supposed to feel confident in a win with your ace on the hill. That's not happening. Hey, at least Cahill's healthy, though, unlike about half the Oakland pitchers who have been on the 40-man roster this year.

Ryan Madson/Placido Polanco, Phillies. There will be no repeat of Brad Lidge's 2008 season in Philly (when he saved 41 games without blowing a single chance). Ryan Madson entered the game Thursday night against the Cubs having converted all 14 of his save opportunities, but a Geovany Soto home run tied it. Madson almost took the loss, as Tyler Colvin followed with what was initially ruled a home run. The umpires ruled fan interference and a ground-rule double after video review, and Madson got out of the inning with a tie game. Then, in the top of the 11th, Placido Polanco committed a throwing error with two outs that allowed the Cubs to plate the go-ahead run. The Phillies then went down in the bottom half of the inning and lost a game they should have won.

BONUS UP AND DOWN: Joakim Soria returned to his customary role as the Royals closer and picked up the save. So that's good. It's just that he didn't look in control at all. He allowed back-to-back singles with one out and then walked the bases loaded with two outs before getting Corey Patterson to pop up and end the game. Soria faced six hitters and threw at least two balls to four of them. Both singles were hit pretty hard, too. But, again, he did lock down the save and didn't allow a run.

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