This Week in Baseball is back from vacation, and lots of the Midwest fans' favorite players have been busy, ranging from Joey Votto to David DeJesus to Chris Perez.
Actually, Votto had Friday night off for the Reds (he did pinch-hit), and it was his first non-start of the season. The Reds won Friday's extra-inning affair with the Brewers after losing Thursday's 14-inning game to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, ending a streak of 12 straight Cincinnati victories at Wrigley. If the Reds had swept the Cubs at Wrigley last week, it would have been the first Reds' sweep at Wrigley since 1968.
Reds manager Dusty Baker, who turned 64 on Saturday, said Hank Aaron told him years ago that all everyday ballplayers should have 10 or so off days each year. Good advice, but hard to do when you're in a race for a playoff berth.
The Reds host the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight through Thursday afternoon before going to first-place Arizona for three games this weekend.
The Reds and Pirates are now in line to get the National League's two wild-card positions, if the season were to end today, with both trailing St. Louis in the National League Central Division.
Speaking of the Cards, that's who the Cubs (averaging just 2.4 runs per game) host tonight through Thursday afternoon and then host day games with the Astros on Friday through Sunday.
DeJesus had a big Friday night vs. the Mets, driving in three runs with a bases-loaded triple before suffering a shoulder sprain when he crashed into the outfield fence. He will be on the disabled list for at least 15 days.
Jackson back in action
Austin Jackson is finally off the disabled list for the Tigers, so he's back in the leadoff spot and playing center field for the division-leading Detroit club.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland has less to worry about with Jackson back, but he still has closer Jose Valverde's blown saves to ponder.
Leyland said correctly that this problem happens to all closers, but it seems to be happening more this season all over baseball to a lot of relief pitchers. But Leyland sees no other option for the Tigers.
The Tigers host Baltimore tonight and Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon before Boston visits Motown for four Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights along with the Sunday afternoon finale.
The White Sox have lost 12 of their last 13 on the road, which means it's not good news that Chicago must finish up its road trip the rest of this week.
The White Sox continue their voyage in Houston with one more game tonight, then move on to play the Twins at night Tuesday and Wednesday before a day game with Minnesota on Thursday and the Royals in Kansas City for three games next weekend.
The 'dog' days of early summer
In Cleveland, closer Chris Perez and his wife pleaded not guilty to a possession of marijuana charge after a package arrived at their home with a small amount of pot addressed to their dog. No word yet on the dog's plea.
Perez is still on the disabled list and bullpen woes continue to plague the Tribe.
After coming from behind to grab the lead vs. Washington on Saturday night, Joe Smith suffered his second a blown save and Vinnie Pestano was tagged with his second loss.
At least Cleveland's nightmarish road trip to the then first-place Yankees (three defeats at Yankee Stadium), first-place Detroit (three more losses) and formerly tied-for-first Texas (an opening loss before two wins to end the series) is over, as is the Tribe's eight-game losing skid.
The Tribe hosts the red-hot Royals tonight through Wednesday night before hosting the Twins on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.