Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano has struggled this season in more ways than one. Through 70 innings — 11 starts, 16 relief appearances — he has posted a 5.27 ERA, 1.77 WHIP and 38 walks against 63 strikeouts. Oh, and there was that little incident back in June that cost him a month.
Perhaps some progress was made on Saturday. Big Z limited the division rival Cardinals to two earned runs over 5.2 innings on a steamy day at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, allowing his Cubs to grab a 3-2 victory. He struck out three batters and issued only two walks.
As the Associated Press notes, it was his first victory since June 20. It was also his first sign of life since his team-issued suspension.
Zambrano is owed $18 million annually through 2014, which will make a trade or any type of move extremely difficult. Essentially, the Cubbies are stuck with him. So they might as well throw him into the fire and see if he can settle in as a reliable third or fourth starter. Hey, every good team has a few innings eaters.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.