by Jordan Adams - 06/05/2006
Entering June, the possibility of Albert Pujols challenging both Barry Bonds' 73 home runs and Hack Wilson's 191 RBI became realistic. Those thoughts seemingly came to a sudden halt after the slugger was placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday with a strained oblique. Pujols, who leads the majors with 24 homers and 65 RBI, could be sidelined anywhere from two weeks to more than a month. He is the muscle of the St. Louis Cardinals, so his loss means teammates Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds must step up big time because of the lack of production they are receiving from the rest of their lineup.
Lost in all the Pujols hype is the emergence of the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of the hottest clubs in the majors the past two weeks. Currently sitting atop the NL West and twelve games over .500 at 34-22, Arizona has been getting ample production from its young hitters and boasts the front-runner for NL Cy Young in ace Brandon Webb.
NL Team of the Week
Considering all the slack the Marlins have been catching this season, this young team has done exceptionally well despite the yard sale in the off-season. First year manager Joe Girardi has his squad competing and should be given credit for not seeing his team give up as most expected they would once realizing they couldn't win this year.
The Marlins won six of their seven games this week and have won seven of ten overall. The first part of the week Florida welcomed the Giants to Pro Player Stadium. Taking two of three, the Marlins' starting pitchers registered both of the victories, as Scott Olsen and Brain Moehler each earned their third win of the season.
Their weekend series placed them in Coors Field to take on the Colorado Rockies. Losing some of their early season momentum, Colorado was swept by Florida. The Marlins, again, earned all three wins from their starting rotation. Dontrelle Willis took Friday's game with a 4-2 win. Saturday's match-up was anything but level as the Marlins routed the Rockies, 13-0, behind starter Ricky Nolasco. The weekend finale saw Olsen grab his second win of the week in a 4-3 victory.
AL Team of the Week
Thought by most to get over the hump and back into the playoffs this year, Cleveland has had its share of struggles in May. However, June's schedule has started off in good fashion as they have climbed back over the .500 mark. The Indians managed to take four of six this week heading into the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game of the week against the Los Angeles Angels.
Earlier this week after an 11-0 stomping by the White Sox, Cleveland turned on the engines and won the final three games of the four-game meeting. C.C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook each added effective starts on Tuesday and Wednesday and won their starts. On Thursday, reliever Fernando Cabrera received a late-inning victory coming out the bullpen to successfully finish off the Sox, 12-8.
The first two games of Cleveland's weekend series with the Angels were split. Los Angeles rolled up their sleeves and made short work of the Indians with a 10-3 win on Friday. However, Cleveland returned the favor the next day with a 14-2 shellacking behind birthday boy Travis Hafner and his grand slam and six RBI.
NL Player of the Week
Jose Castillo | 2B | Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates sure like individual accolades. Perhaps that is why they struggle so much as team. Nonetheless, this is the third straight week a Pirate has been named top NL player. This week second baseman Jose Castillo turned in one exceptional collection of games. His four home runs and 15 RBI led the charge, but not to be forgotten was his 11/23 with the stick, alongside eight runs scored and two doubles. And actually, Pittsburgh managed to have a winning week, taking five of their seven games.
AL Player of the Week
Jermaine Dye | RF | Chicago White Sox
With no AL hitter making too much noise, Chi-town's Dye did have a statistically solid week. The White Sox right fielder had three long balls and six RBI. Dye also hit the ball well for average, going 9/26 with eight runs scored and a double to his name. His efforts weren't enough to prevent his team from a week that saw them lose four of their seven games. They still trail the Detroit Tigers by 2.5 games in the division.
Upcoming Weekend Series to Watch
Detroit Tigers @ Toronto Blue Jays | June 9-11
Probable Pitching Match-ups
Friday - Jeremy Bonderman vs. Gustavo Chacin
Saturday - Roman Colon vs. Ted Lilly
Sunday - Nate Robertson vs. Ty Taubenheim
This weekend's top match-up is between two of the newer clubs on the scene that seem to be here to stay for the pennant chase. The Detroit Tigers, despite a poor week against the Yankees and Red Sox, still hold baseball's best record.
For Toronto, all that coin spent in the off-season seems to be paying off nicely. The Blue Jays, while still behind both AL East powerhouses, hold a 31-24 mark and only trail the first place Yankees by 2.5 games.
Detroit continues to win with pitching. Its starters and bullpen continue to pitch well and that will be their ammo for the rest of the year. The Blue Jays have one of the better offensives in the AL. With names like Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay, the Blue Jays can hit with anyone. And their arms aren't so bad either with Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay and stud closer B.J. Ryan who yields a minuscule 0.68 ERA.
Blue Jays win 2-1
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