Daily Dose: Jay Bruce fractures wrist

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Jay Bruce rejoined the Reds’ lineup Saturday following a brief benching
that was meant to, as manager Dusty Baker put it, “clear his head.”
Instead he struck out in the top of the first inning and then fractured
his wrist while attempting to make a diving catch in the bottom of the
frame. The good news is that the injury was to his right wrist and
Bruce is a left-handed batter and thrower.

The bad news is that he was put on the disabled list Sunday while
the Reds wait for the results of an MRI exam to determine exactly how
long he’ll be sidelined. If the MRI results agree with the initial
X-rays Bruce should be able to avoid going under the knife, but
season-ending surgery is possible. For now Chris Dickerson and Jonny
Gomes will fill in, but the Reds may be in the market for an
outfielder.

While the Reds hope that Bruce’s sophomore season doesn’t end with a
measly .727 OPS, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* John Bowker went hitless through his first two starts since being
called up from Triple-A last week, but was 2-for-4 with a homer Sunday.
Bowker has often been overlooked by the Giants and will likely need to
have immediate success to keep getting starts once the second half is
underway, but he’s clearly capable of being an asset in NL-only leagues
and could even emerge with mixed-league value.

Bower has posted a modest .700 OPS through 362 plate appearances in
the big leagues, but batted .322/.416/.550 at Triple-A and
.307/.363/.523 at Double-A to show that he’ll likely produce if given
the chance. He’s already 26 years old, so stardom isn’t in Bowker’s
future, but he has 20-homer power with solid on-base skills and should
hit around .270 with a handful of steals.

* Matt Cain left Saturday’s game in the second inning after being
hit on the elbow by a line drive and has been replaced by Zach Duke for
the All-Star game, but is expected to make his next scheduled start
Sunday. Cain described his elbow as “just sore” and said that “it feels
better than we really thought it would.” He ends the first half at 10-2
with a 2.38 ERA and 95/46 K/BB ratio in 117 innings.

* With both Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield picked for the All-Star
team the Red Sox have decided to go with six starters to begin the
second half. Clay Buchholz will get the nod Friday against the Blue
Jays, but he’ll almost surely go right back to Triple-A regardless of
how well he pitches. However, he’s 7-1 with a 2.99 ERA and 86/29 K/BB
ratio in 93.2 innings there and may still be a second-half factor.

AL Quick Hits: Josh Beckett picked up his 100th career victory
Sunday with his fourth career complete-game shutout … Justin Verlander
shut out the Indians for seven innings Sunday and is tied with Tim
Lincecum for the MLB lead with 149 strikeouts … Carlos Gomez went
3-for-5 with a homer Sunday, knocking in five runs … John Lackey tossed
seven innings of two-run ball Sunday to out-duel CC Sabathia and
complete a three-game sweep of the Yankees … Jason Bay didn’t have an
official at-bat despite reaching base five times Sunday, drawing three
walks and being hit by two pitches … Kevin Slowey (wrist) was unable to
throw a bullpen session Sunday, so he’ll miss at least one more
rotation turn … Brandon Inge went deep twice Sunday after being picked
to the Home Run Derby … Mark Buehrle failed to pitch at least five
innings Sunday for the first time, coughing up eight runs while
recording 10 outs … Mike Lowell (wrist) is expected to come off the
disabled list Friday.

NL Quick Hits: Barry Zito was rocked for nine runs Sunday,
finishing the first half with a 5.01 ERA … Carlos Zambrano turned in a
Quality Start and smacked his third homer of the season Sunday … Carlos
Delgado (hip) hit in a cage Sunday, but remains 3-4 weeks from
potentially returning … Kyle Lohse allowed four runs over five innings
in his return from the disabled list Sunday … Will Venable went 4-for-5
with four runs and his first homer Sunday … J.A. Happ improved to 6-0
by allowing one run over seven innings Sunday … Clayton Kershaw got the
best of Yovani Gallardo with six innings of one-run ball Sunday … Brian
Moehler had six shutout innings Sunday, slicing his ERA to 5.08 …
Florida sent Sean West to the minors Sunday despite posting a 4.91 ERA
through his first 10 starts … Brad Hawpe homered and delivered a
walk-off double Sunday, heading into the break with a .320 batting
average.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.