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Big East in the Big Leagues: Going backwards

The great fortune that shone down upon the Big East in the Big Leagues crew last week has evaporated some, as demotions and an injury plagued a few of our favorite band of ex-Big Easters.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Darin Ruf (Creighton)

What is Ruf doing so high on this list? It isn't because of something positive, as Ruf leads our group of players feeling blue in mid-June. The former Creighton standout was handed some terrible news this past week, as he was sent back to Triple A to make room for Dominic Brown on the Phillies roster. Ruf hadn't been tearing the cover off the ball at the MLB level, but in three games last week he went 3-for-8 before the demotion. In total, as has been well documented in this series, Ruf has been a less than potent extra bat for Philadelphia (.235/.279/.382), so this news wasn't exactly a shocking, but it is still a disappointment. Ruf has hit .295 with a .375 OBP to go with 75 home runs and 343 RBI in 573 games during his long minor league career, which began in 2009.

Pat Venditte (Creighton)

After dazzling the baseball world with his ambidextrous dealing last week, Venditte has hit a snag during this one, as he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday. The A's, who are languishing in the basement of the AL West, could use Venditte back in the bullpen, as he has not allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings across four appearances. As luck would have it, Venditte, who is suffering from a strained right shoulder, is expected to return as soon as he is eligible, which would be June 26, according to our friends at Athletic's Nation.

Matt Szczur (Villanova)

Szszur's dismaying demotion might not have come during the last seven days, but his cold streak during the last week down on the farm certainly isn't helping soothe matters. In his last 10 games with the Iowa Cubs, he is batting just .237, including a disastrous 2-for-23 since being reshuffled into the minor leagues last weekend. He is still batting a solid .288 with four home runs and 14 RBI as well as 10 stolen bases at the MILB level, but going cold with Iowa is not going to help him heat up with Chicago.

Joe Panik (St. John's)

It wasn't just a death march of dreariness for these guys, however. This entire column could just detail the shenanigans of Mr. Panik and it would seemingly never dip into the depths of despair. The (hopefully soon to be) All-Star second baseman did have a 15-game hitting streak come to an end this past week, thanks to an 0-for-4 effort during a 1-0 loss to Arizona, but he is still slashing the ball all over the park, batting .311 to go with a .375 on-base percentage and a .468 slugging percentage. During the last week he only batted .276 (8-for-29), but he had a pair of doubles, three RBI and five runs scored as well. One of the most amazing things about Panik has been his success against left handed pitchers. He is batting an incredible .354 against southpaws, which means manager Bruce Bochy doesn't have to bury him on the lineup card when lefties take the bump.

Pat Neshek (Butler)

It was a bumpy week for Neshek. The sidearm hurler from Butler was torched for two runs on three hits, including a home run, in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox last Wednesday. The difficult outing ended a streak of 17 games and 14 innings without allowing a run for him. His ERA ballooned to 2.82 after that appearance, the highest it has been since May 17. He recovered nicely in his only other game of the week, as he pitched a scoreless eighth inning to record his 17th hold of the season during a 6-3 win over the Rockies. Neshek is lucky enough to be on the best team of any BEITBL player, as the Astros remain in first place in the AL West at 37-28.

Jason Grilli (Seton Hall)

The workload for Grilli was much greater over the last seven days, as he pitched in four games. He was excellent in all four of those contests, earning two saves and a win, while not allowing a single earned run. His week began with a save of a 6-5 win over San Diego last Tuesday. He then pitched the final inning of a 6-4 loss against the Padres two days later. Over the weekend he earned his second victory of the campaign by throwing a shutout top of the 10th inning. Cameron Maybin laced a two-run  single in the next inning and Williams Perez locked the door to earn the save in lieu of Grilli in the bottom half of the 11th. Grilli did give up two hits and an unearned run on Monday against Boston, but he didn't let the game slip away, as his 17th save secured a 4-2 win. Grilli's ERA has been falling steadily over the last few weeks, as it now sits at 3.09, the lowest it has been since the end of April.

Amir Garrett (St. John's)

The lanky lefty was coming off a shellacking when we last checked in. He showed a great deal of resiliency this past week. Rather than losing confidence and collapsing in on himself, Garrett tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball against the St. Lucie Mets, striking out eight batters in the process. He has wrung up 66 batters in 59 innings this season and his ERA fell from 3.52 to 3.20 following his lone start of the last seven days.

Danny Burawa (St. John's)

Like Garrett, Burawa was riding a cold streak into last week's column. He put together a solid week of games, pitching twice and allowing zero runs over the course of 3 1/3 innings. He was especially effective on Saturday against Rochester. He faced five batters in the game, striking out four of them. He has at least two punchouts in six of his last 10 outings and has driven his ERA back below 2.00.

Here's hoping for some more good news for the Big East in the Big League boys in the next seven days. Oh, and as always, remember to #VotePanik.