Triple Crown Watch: Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto

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Last night Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 in a loss to the Pirates while Joey Votto went 4-for-7 with two homers and four RBIs in a wild extra-inning win over the Giants, so here’s how the Triple Crown picture looks right now:

BATTING AVERAGE
JOEY VOTTO        .326
Carlos Gonzalez   .320
ALBERT PUJOLS     .319
HOME RUNS
ALBERT PUJOLS      33
JOEY VOTTO         31
Adam Dunn          31
RUNS BATTED IN
ALBERT PUJOLS      92
JOEY VOTTO         90
Carlos Gonzalez    84

As noted earlier this week, Omar Infante still lurks as a possible roadblock to the batting title for Pujols or Votto. After going 1-for-5 with a homer last night Infante is now hitting .347 and he’s inching closer to the plate appearances needed to qualify.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.