NEXT UP IN THE WEEK AHEAD
What's more surprising about The NL Central race, that the previously under-achieving Astros have joined the fray, or That the upstart Reds are still hanging on? This weekend in Houston those two teams meet for the final time this year. The good news for Cincinnati: The team has acquired three veteran starters over the last five weeks. The bad news: The only one scheduled to work against the Astros is righthander Ryan Dempster, and he has a 7.71 ERA in three career starts at Minute Maid Park.
At week's end Devil Rays pitchers had hit more batters (72) than any other staff in the majors, and Angels batters had been hit more often (62 times) than any other team's. Ice bags and aspirin will be at a premium in the Anaheim clubhouse when Tampa Bay visits Edison Field for three games beginning on Aug. 27. The most likely player to bruise? Angels leadoff hitter David Eckstein, who'd been hit by pitches 23 times—seven more than any other player in the majors.