* Brad Ziegler's historic scoreless innings streak was snapped Thursday, as the side-arming right-hander allowed a run for the first time in 39 innings since making his MLB debut on May 31. Not only is that the longest scoreless streak by a reliever since 1949, it's the longest streak of all time to start a pitcher's career. Ziegler now has a 0.23 ERA to go along with an 18-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 innings, but the real key to his success has been inducing tons of ground balls.
An amazing 70 percent of the balls put in play against Ziegler have been on the ground, which leads baseball. For comparison, Brandon Webb has a ground-ball rate of 66 percent. He's yet to allow a homer in 40 innings and in fact hasn't served up a single long ball in 142.2 total innings since altering his delivery last year. He's obviously not as good as he's shown thus far because no one is that good, but the 28-year-old rookie is the real deal and is emerging as the A's closer.
* Last week the Adam Dunn trade was reported as being Dunn for Dallas Buck and two players to be named later, but the two mystery men have since been revealed as Micah Owings and Wilkin Castillo. Castillo was traded to the Reds officially Thursday, but Owings likely won't be changing teams for a little while because of a shoulder injury that has him sidelined at Triple-A. Despite the delay he'll eventually be property of the Reds, which makes it possible to fully analyze the deal.
As expected when the trade was initially reported, the Diamondbacks come out looking good by getting 50 games of Dunn for the stretch run and two first-round picks if/when he departs via free agency this winter. In return they send the Reds three solid young players, but none of Owings, Buck, or Castillo projects as a true impact guy long term. Would the Reds have been better off taking the two draft picks themselves rather than dealing Dunn? Time will tell, but it's a close call.
* Clinging to a 3-2 lead over the Royals in the seventh inning Thursday afternoon the White Sox blasted four consecutive homers as Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and Juan Uribe tied the MLB record by going back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Joel Peralta served up the first three and Robinson Tejeda coughed up the history maker, as the White Sox increased their lead in the AL Central to a full game while bringing their AL-leading homer total to 172 in 121 games.
* Brad Penny returned last week from a two-month stay on the disabled list, turned in one strong start and one bad start, and headed back to the shelf Thursday with the same shoulder soreness that sidelined him the first time. With just six weeks remaining in the season it's certainly possible that Penny has made his last start, although the Dodgers should know more about his potential recovery timetable once they get the results of his MRI exam back over the weekend.
* Oliver Perez stayed on his two-month roll Thursday, racking up eight strikeouts in a win over the Nationals. He began the season with a 5.70 ERA and ugly 50-to-43 strikeout-to-walk ratio through a dozen starts, culminating with a brutal outing against the Giants on June 2 that saw him chased from the game after one-third of an inning. However, since then he has a 2.61 ERA and fantastic 81-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 starts. When he throws strikes, Perez can be a beast.
AL Quick Hits: As he's done all year Daisuke Matsuzaka worked around shaky control Thursday, shutting out the high-scoring Rangers for seven innings to pick up his 14th win . David Price made his Triple-A debut Wednesday and suffered his first loss in 16 pro starts . Jhonny Peralta left Thursday's game after being hit on the hand by a Daniel Cabrera fastball . David Ortiz hit another three-run homer Thursday, finishing 5-for-9 with three homers, five walks, and nine RBIs in a three-game sweep of the Rangers . Travis Hafner (shoulder) took batting practice Thursday for the first time since May and could begin a minor-league rehab assignment next week . Less than a week since coming off the disabled list, Rocco Baldelli left Thursday's game following an awkward slide at home plate . Aubrey Huff has reportedly cleared waivers, meaning that the Orioles are free to trade the .300/.359/.550 hitter and his 25 homers . Jarrod Washburn, George Sherrill, and Raul Ibanez are reportedly among players who've been pulled back by their original teams after being claimed off waivers.
NL Quick Hits:Mark Kotsay hit for the cycle and tacked on a second single Thursday, going 5-for-5 to raise his batting average to an even .300 . Amid speculation that he's not actually injured, Andruw Jones (knee) is slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday . On track to return Monday, Billy Wagner (shoulder) began his rehab stint Thursday with a scoreless inning at Double-A . As expected, the Padres placed Chris Young (forearm) on the shelf Thursday, likely ending his season . Jeff Francoeur homered Thursday for the first time in 113 plate appearances dating back to July 9 . Ryan Ludwick went 2-for-4 with a homer Thursday, giving him seven homers and 16 RBIs in 13 games this month . By starting his 110th game of the season Thursday, Jason Kendall vested the Brewers' option on him for 2009 . Tom Glavine lost in his return from the disabled list Thursday, allowing seven runs in four innings . Dan Haren recovered from back-to-back poor starts to toss eight innings of two-run ball Thursday for his 13th win . Mark Reynolds said Wednesday that he'd be open to playing second base if it got Adam Dunn, Conor Jackson, Justin Upton, and Chad Tracy into the lineup together.