Three Up, Three Down: MLB Week Three

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IApril 19, 2008

Three weeks of baseball are almost in the books and we have some interesting teams atop the divisions.

We also have some interesting players off to some great starts, and some more proven guys off to some bad ones.

C.C. Sabathia was a down player in the first week of this, and while he probably could have made it both last week and this week, let's just try and give the bad spotlight to someone else.

I found an interesting trio of players who are all up this week, so I grouped them together.

First Up: St. Louis Cardinals outfielders Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker, and Chris Duncan.

These three guys are on fire and a big reason the Cardinals are on top of the NL Central so early.

Skip Schumaker, who went 0-for-15 in his first seven games, has gotten a hit in 11 of 12 games since.

This past week, he is hitting .416 with five runs batted in and three stolen bases.

Ryan Ludwick is hitting .533 with five runs scored, five runs batted in and three home runs.

Chris Duncan, who started off the year with some injury struggles, is batting .435 in the past week with two home runs and five runs batted in.

Combined, they've hit six home runs, knocked in 15 runs, and scored 18 runs.

Oh, and I forgot to mention Rick Ankiel. He's the Cardinal outfielder who actually starts most of the games. He is hitting .292 in the past week with one home run and three runs batted in. 

Second Up: Cliff Lee

Talk about a stopper.

For the second Sunday in a row, Cliff Lee prevented the Indians from being swept by the Oakland Athletics with an eight-inning masterpiece.

He followed that up on Friday, where he went eight more innings and this time shut out the Twins. 

In each start, he gave up two hits and struck out eight batters, and combined he only walked one.

Lee has started the year 3-0 with an ERA of 0.40. With Sabathia struggling, Lee has really picked up the entire staff with his consistent outings.

Third Up: Chipper Jones

He may be getting older, but he isn't showing any signs of slowing down; especially this past week.

Since last Saturday, Chipper Jones is hitting .577 with nine runs scored, nine RBI and five home runs.

In two straight games, on Thursday and Friday, Jones hit two home runs apiece. 

He is also carrying a 12-game hit streak and has reached base every game this year. Jones' on-base percentage is nearing .500.

To show you how important Chipper is to the Braves' offense, when he doesn't score a run, they are 0-5.

First Down: Ben Broussard

After getting off to a hot start with his hometown team, Broussard has fizzled.

In his first six games as a Ranger, Broussard hit three home runs, and knocked in eight runs.

Today, his season totals stand pat at three home runs and eight runs batted in.

Since those first six games, he has scored a grand total of one run and in the past week he has gone 1-for-19.

Broussard was recently benched in favor of Jason Botts. If Ben continues to struggle, he will lose even more playing time for the Rangers.

Second Down: San Diego Padres

The Padres have lost their last four games and five of their last seven. They've scored only six runs in their last four games and have given up 31 to the Diamondbacks and Rockies.

They are least productive offense team in the majors with only 50 runs. Only one player, Brian Giles, is hitting over .300.

Until Saturday, when they got two home runs, they went 106 straight innings without one.

To make matters worse, they came out on the losing end of a 22-inning marathon. Surprisingly, they only gave up two runs in the entire game, but the next night against Arizona, the Padres gave up six runs in the first inning. 

Third Down: Jose Valverde

Jose Valverde blew his second save of the year this past week and recorded his first loss.

Valverse gave up home runs to Chris Snelling and Pat Burrell before surrendering the game-winning double to Pedro Feliz.

Two nights later, he gave up a two-run home run to Phillies catcher Chris Coste.

Valverde has converted on only one save chance this year, after saving a major-league-high 47 last year for the Diamondbacks.

Then again, the Astros have only won six games, and he hasn't had many save chances to stay sharp. But it appears he is starting to wear thin on manager Cecil Cooper.

The night after the blown save, Doug Brocail got the chance to save a 2-1 game against the Phillies and slammed the door shut. 

Safe on Error

Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth ran his hitting streak to 17 games on Saturday. He has hit in every game and could become the first Pirate since 1972 to start the year with an 18-game hit streak.

Tampa Bay is the only team without a hitter in the top 50 in batting average. Carl Crawford is 51st with a .266 average. 

Intentional Walk

San Diego's Justin Germano is the only pitcher in the Top Ten of season ERA not to have at least 10 strikeouts. He is also the only one not to have recorded a win. He is fifth with a 1.26 ERA.


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