A sampling of news from around a middling division.
Francisco Rodriguez blew his second save of the season, including his second-straight game with a bases-loaded walk, in the Orioles’ 5-4 ninth-inning comeback over the Mets. Starter Liven Hernandez, who’s proven to be one of the best, low-budget signings in baseball, pitched through a cramp in his right arm, considered minor. In Boston, the third-place Marlins, who’ve shown small signs of life, earned a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox in a rain-shortened game. Ricky Nolasco held Boston to one hit in the first five innings. In Cincinnati, a pair of newcomers, rookie hurler Tommy Hanson and recent acquisition Nate McLouth led Atlanta to a 7-0 shutout over the Reds. Hanson, who made his Major League debut June 7, improved to 2-0 by allowing three hits over six innings. Atlanta has been one of baseball’s most disappointing teams, with rumblings that it might be time for the team to move on from Bobby Cox. And in Washington, any hopes of a second-half resurgence rest in the hands of top draft pick Steven Strasburg, but negotiations with the hard-throwing right-hander could take months.
Beerleaguer: Even in a bad division, the Phillies are in for a dogfight if they cannot fix their pitching. If they land one, they will sail into the postseason barring a collapse. But without a consistent starter, they’ll stay in contention, but the race will become very tight and they risk falling short. It would be a crying shame for a team with this much talent. You can bank on a second-half improvements across the board, starting with the Braves; the Phils will get to see much more of them after the interleague schedule. Things like defense and bullpen are going to hurt Florida, but they’ll linger. The Mets will get healthier. As for Washington, perhaps a pair of encouraging wins against the Yankees are enough to build their confidence as they look to finish strong.
New riverfront stadium proposed for Reading: A $70 million ballpark to house the Reading Phillies has been added on to a $2.8 billion plan to develop Reading’s Schuylkill River waterfront. R-Phils part owner Craig Stein said he’s not holding his breath. [See the Reading Eagle for details.]