Local MLB players take good with bad

The following are updates on area Major League Baseball players.

Marco Estrada (Glendale Community College, 2003) starting pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers: Just in case anyone is wondering, Estrada feels just fine.

The Glendale Community College product struck out a career-high 12 batters through six innings against the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday in his return from a month-long trip to the disabled list. It matched a season-high for the Brewers this season, as Zach Greinke also struck out 12 Chicago Cubs on June 6.

Estrada, who was placed on the DL May 24 after he strained his right quadriceps rounding first base after he hit a two-out double against the San Francisco Giants, was able to keep the Cincinnati batters guessing with good command and velocity on his curve and fastball.

"I was locating the fastball, that's what it was, and I was able to go off of that," Estrada told MLB.com after the game. "I don't think they were expecting fastballs when I was ahead. I'm pretty sure they were sitting off-speed, and I was able to throw a 90-mph fastball by a lot of guys."

All the strikeouts fell by the wayside in the bottom of the sixth when Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips got on base with a double and single, respectively, and scored on a three-run home run from Jay Bruce.

"It was a good pitch to hit," Estrada said of the hanger to Bruce. "It was a bad curveball. I really think if I would have got it where I wanted to, I could have had a ground ball and got myself out of that inning."

Estrada was saved from the loss when the Brewers scored three runs in the eighth, but Drew Stubbs delivered the Reds victory, 4-3, with a solo shot off a struggling John Axford in the eighth inning.

Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke lauded the outing, even though Estrada (0-3) remains winless on the season.

"Really good," Roenicke said of Estrada's performance. "Good command, great change of speeds. Threw some great curveballs. He just had those two batters [Votto and Bruce] where he had mistakes, and they're the wrong guys to make mistakes to."

The outing maintained Estrada's 4.50 earned-run average in 12 appearances and seven starts. The right hander has 46 strikeouts, nine walks and has held batters to a .238 batting average through 42 innings this season.

Milwaukee (34-41) dropped two of the three games to Cincinnati to find themselves 7 1/2 games back of the National League Central-leading Reds (41-33) heading into Thursday.

Brandon McCarthy (Glendale native) starting pitcher, Oakland Athletics: McCarthy appeared to be pain free when he rattled off seven scoreless innings on just 81 pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers June 19, but the Glendale native was sent back to the disabled list with right shoulder soreness Sunday.

"For whatever reason, it just doesn't recover the way it's supposed to, or in time," McCarthy told MLB.com. "The soreness stays there longer than it should, the inflammation. I guess this is just another one of those times where that's the case."

McCarthy was pulled from his scheduled start in the series finale against the cross-town rival San Francisco Giants Sunday with the familiar pain that sent him to the 15-day DL May 20 before returning June 2. A.J. Griffin was called up from Triple-A Sacramento River Cats to replace McCarthy in the rotation.

According to a MLB.com article, MRIs show no structural damage to McCarthy's shoulder, which has left the right hander's doctors with no solution and left him frustrated.

"The last two weeks have been about as mentally harrowing as I've had in my career," said McCarthy, who plans to rest with a possible return to his workouts after the All-Star break. "Dealing with pain every day is miserable. ... [Doctors are] saying it's fine and healthy, and it just doesn't feel right.

"You obsess over the pain, and the whole thing is just kind of a big stressful game that hasn't been fun."

It's forced McCarthy to step away in a stretch where he's been dominant on the mound, as he's posted a 1.96 ERA through a six-game winning streak.

"[Pitching's] all I really want to do right now," McCarthy said. "There is that powerlessness of I feel like I've done everything we could do, tried different routes and it just kind of seems to keep coming back without anything serious being in there at all.

"Nobody can look at me and say, 'This is why, let's address this,' and that's the way I like to handle things. You just kind of want to pull your hair out."

The Athletics (37-39) will look to make up ground in the National League West without McCarthy, as they were 10 games behind the leading Texas Rangers (47-29) Thursday.

Doug Slaten (Glendale Community College, 1999) relief pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates: It took just nine pitches for Slaten to retire the Philadelphia Phillies in order — each via groundout — in the bottom of the sixth inning Monday.

Slaten, who relieved Jeff Karstens with the Pirates down 7-3, struggled to get an out in the seventh, though, as he gave up a leadoff single to Carlos Ruiz, loaded the bases with a pair of four-pitch walks and issued another free pass to Ty Wigginton to score Ruiz and cap the scoring at 8-3.

The former Vaquero bounced back and kept the game from becoming a blowout when he struck out the next three batters — Mike Fontenot, Hector Luna and Jimmy Rollins — to end the threat.

The next day brought bad news, as Slaten was optioned to Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians Tuesday and designated for assignment Wednesday. The left hander's ERA sits at 2.77 after Monday, as he's given up four runs, nine hits and struck out six batters through 13 innings and 10 appearances this season.

Pittsburgh split the four-game road trip with the Phillies to bring its record to 40-35 entering a showdown for second place in the National League Central at St. Louis, as the Cardinals (40-36) were half a game behind the Pirates heading into their three-game homestand.

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