AP Photo/Morry Gash
The problem is that there are two St. Louis Cardinals pitchers who are both more deserving of accolades this season. Wednesday night, Adam Wainwright won his 18th game of the season, shutting out the Milwaukee Brewers for seven innings and lowering his ERA to 2.59 on the season. In the second half of the season, Wainwright has gone 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA, and the Cardinals are certainly playing meaningful games. Yet, we're still skeptical.
The reason, of course, is that Chris Carpenter, 16-3 with a 2.16 ERA, is also on the St. Louis Cardinals. He's been a perfect 9-0 with a 1.84 ERA since the All-Star festivities, and his starts have been just as meaningful as Wainwright's. So how do you choose between the two? Therein lies the problem.
It's clear that even with the arrival of Matt Holliday, who has hit .379 since coming over from the Oakland A's in late July, it's Albert Pujols who will be named the National League MVP. Pujols hit two home runs on Wednesday, giving him 47 for the season and is only one Hanley Ramirez slump away from a Triple Crown. But on the pitching side of the ledger, with two solid Cy Young resumes in the rotation, it's hard to choose a favorite.
From a team standpoint, that's not a problem. But when all is said and done, if Tim Lincecum gets back on the mound quickly, he may just provide voters with an "easy out" so they don't have to make the tough call, allowing him to sneak off into the night with his ill-gotten gains.
• In the American League, Jered Weaver threw his hat into the ring for earning postseason honors, improving to 15-5 with an eight-strikeout, no walk performance in 6 1/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners. Weaver was helped out by Kendry Morales' first-inning, three-run double, which was his 40th two-bagger of the season, and raised his RBI total to 98.
• Micah Hoffpauir may be batting only .236 on the season, but that's not a fair assessment. When he gets the start in right field, as he did yesterday, he's hitting .288. Hoffpauir homered, doubled and walked twice against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and scored three times in the Cubs' 8-5 win. Carlos Zambrano won for the first time since returning from the disabled list, with six innings of two-run ball.
• Wednesday walk-off mania: Seth Smith drove in two runs on a groundball that Brandon Phillips couldn't quite get a grasp on in time to prevent pinch-runner Jason Marquis from scoring all the way from second base, as the Rockies bested the Reds, 4-3. Scott Rolen had given the Reds the lead with a home run in the top of the ninth.
• Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski doubled home Alexei Ramirez in the bottom of the 13th to defeat the Oakland Athletics, 4-3. Scott Podsednik was 4-for-7 with two doubles. In the loss, Rajai Davis went 3-for-6 with two stolen bases. He leads the majors with 23 second-half swipes.
• Miguel Tejada ruined Tommy Hanson's night by smacking a two-run single off reliever Rafael Soriano to win the game in the last frame for Houston, 2-1. Hanson had thrown eight shutout innings and allowed only five hits, two of those of the infield variety. Unfortunately, Soriano's failure prevented the rookie from earning win No. 10.
• Victor Martinez's seventh inning pinch-hit double cleared the bases and helped rally the Red Sox to a 7-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Billy Wagner was the lucky recipient of Martinez's timely hit and earned his first win for the Red Sox, with Jonathan Papelbon recording his 35th save.
• Brad Lidge did not get the call from Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on Wednesday, rather it was Ryan Madson who earned the save in a 6-5 win against the Washington Nationals. Perhaps, the old saying should read, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 10 times, I finally have had it."
• Detroit versus Kansas City: Six shutout innings, eight strikeouts, only three hits allowed. Yes it was a great night for Robinson Tejeda? Believe it or not, Tejeda outpitched Justin Verlander to win his first game as a starter in nearly a year. Not that Verlander was horrible, allowing only one run in six innings, but when your team doesn't score, you can't win.
Derek Jeter, Yankees
Jeter had three hits against the Tampa Bay Rays and moved into a tie for the most career hits wearing pinstripes, matching the 2,721 hits by the legendary Lou Gehrig. More impressive is the fact that Jeter accomplished the feat in 45 fewer games than the Iron Horse.
Scott Feldman, Rangers
Feldman improved to 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his past eight starts and won his 12th game of the season on the road as the Rangers trounced the Cleveland Indians, 10-0. Feldman worked seven innings, scattering five hits and striking out five, and is now 16-4 overall.
Baltimore's Brian Roberts went only 1-for-3, but the "one" was his 50th double of the year, marking the third time in his career that he has reached this milestone total of two-baggers. That puts him in lofty company; only three players have ever had three or more such seasons: Tris Speaker (five times), Stan Musial and Paul Waner (three times each). All three are in the Hall of Fame.
• The Minnesota Twins have activated pitcher Francisco Liriano from the disabled list. Liriano was only 5-12 with a 5.80 ERA this season before getting shelved with "arm fatigue," but will rejoin the team as a member of the bullpen in the hopes that he'll finish the season with a bit more confidence and a much better taste in his mouth.
• Go ahead and cut Adam Jones. The Baltimore Orioles made it official on Wednesday that their young outfielder would not be returning to the team this season when they transferred Jones to the 60-day disabled list in order to open up a spot on the 40-man roster for recently acquired reliever Sean "Milk" Henn.
• The Colorado Rockies activated Dexter Fowler from the disabled list on Wednesday. He had been out with a banged-up knee since Aug. 24. Fowler did not start for the Rockies in his first game back, but did pinch-run for Todd Helton in the eighth inning.
Tristan H. Cockcroft: A buddy of mine just asked me this very question Wednesday. As I explained to him, in a daily league I'd be mixing and matching, exploiting Gonzalez's matchup strengths at Coors and Diaz's versus left-handers. In weekly formats, I'd play the one with the greater number of positive matchups accounting for those things. Diaz is probably the safer batting average/runs/RBIs option, if that helps, but Gonzalez easily has the higher ceiling.
-- Full chat transcript
Eric Karabell: Depends on need. Brantley is a big basestealer, LaPorta has pop. And I don't think Borbon has a ton of power, though he hit two home runs the other day. Borbon would probably be my choice, since he's playing the best.
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• Daisuke Matsuzaka looked sharp in his final rehab start for Class A Salem, throwing 89 pitches in 6 2/3 innings and striking out seven hitters in a 7-2 win. With Tim Wakefield scheduled for a cortisone shot in his spine, it's likely that Dice-K will be taking the knuckleballer's spot in the rotation the next time it comes around.
• Florida's Sean West has tamed the Mets in 13 innings pitched this season with a 1.38 ERA, but he's been erratic overall in 2009 with an 8.44 ERA in July, 2.77 in August, and 15.00 so far in September. We're not sure which direction he's going.
• Kansas City's David DeJesus has a 10-game hitting streak and is also 9-for-27 lifetime against Jarrod Washburn, which is good, but not nearly as good as teammate Willie Bloomquist's .448 career mark against Detroit's scheduled starter.
• For more on Thursday's games, check Daily Notes.