The Central divisions take center stage in this week's edition of Diamond Digits as we examine the Cardinals small-ball, big-run win, the active home run hitter on the hill, and a calming influence for the troubled Tribe bullpen.
Runs scored by the Cardinals in an shellacking of the Braves on Friday night. St. Louis pecked away for 26 hits, the most in the big leagues since the Rangers scored 30 runs on 29 hits against the Orioles at Camden Yards exactly one year earlier. But unlike that game when Texas blasted Orioles pitching for six home runs, not a single Cardinal went yard, marking the first time since 1954 that St. Louis scored as many as 18 runs in a game without the benefit of a home run. In fact since 1962 when the NL expanded to 10 teams, only twice before had an NL team scored 18 runs without hitting at least one home run. Oddly enough, both of the previous two times were by the Astros. In 1971
Career home runs for Cubs ace
Consecutive saves converted by Cleveland's new closer,
After showing signs of progress early in the season with a sub-3.50 ERA and then again in his two previous starts against Texas and Cleveland, the hulking Cabrera reverted to his inconsistent and frustrating self. During his two home losses this week against the Red Sox and Yankees he was at his worst, throwing 187 pitches in just eight combined innings, allowing 13 earned runs, 18 hits, six walks and a hit batsman. He's now the AL leader in total walks allowed (fourth in walks per nine innings), second in stolen bases against and third in earned runs allowed. With a season ERA of 5.24 (following 5.55 last season) he's in danger of being the only starting pitcher in Baltimore Orioles history to post two different seasons with an ERA above 5.00.