Brad Penny wins again.
1. The NL’s New Leader: Either the Brewers, Mets, or Padres have held the National League’s best record for most of this season. But now, the Dodgers have the league’s top mark at 53-40. They crushed the Phillies last night 10-3 as Brad Penny improved to 11-1. Penny pitched seven innings, allowing one run and striking out eight. He joined Carlos Zambrano and Cole Hamels as the NL’s only 11-game winners. The Dodgers’ offense pounded Jamie Moyer for 10 runs, including three-run homeruns by Jeff Kent and Matt Kemp. The Dodgers have now won five in a row, but they’re still only a game up on the Padres.
2. Welcome Back: Horacio Ramirez was having a poor season for the Mariners, battling both injuries and ineffectiveness. But in his return off the DL, he looked excellent as the Mariners topped the Orioles. Ramirez allowed two runs in seven innings as Seattle won 4-2. He still has a 5.89 ERA, .317 opponents’ average, and only 15 strikeouts in nine starts. If Ramirez can continue this one good start into a string of good performances this second half, he won’t make the Mariners feel quite as stupid for trading him for stud reliever Rafael Soriano.
3. Playoff Preview?: In a matchup of two teams that could face each other in October, the Padres and Mets started a three-game set on Monday. The Padres won 5-1 behind a strong start from David Wells. Wells gave up on run in six innings in his 7th quality start in his last 11 starts. Michael Barrett powered the Padres with 3 RBIs and 3 hits. Jorge Sosa pitched well in his return from the DL, but he wasn’t supported by the offense or the bullpen. The Mets’ division lead stays at a game and a half as the Braves were pounded by the Reds.
Player of the Day: Kason Gabbard, Red Sox: 9 innings, 3 hits, no runs in a 4-0 win over the Royals.