Major League Baseball interleague play begins today for the 14th consecutive season, and as always there are some great games on tap. Here are my choices for some of the weekend’s more interesting interleague matchups.
1. New York Yankees (25-26) v New York Mets (20-22) – This year’s Subway series may prove a little disappointing. Neither New York team is playing well, with the Yankees losing eight of 12 and the Mets seven of nine. The Yanks trail the division leading Rays by five games while the Mets are the only NL East team with a losing record. The Yankees are 133-95 all-time in interleague play for baseball’s best record. The Yanks should take games two and three of the three-game series behind strong pitching performances by Hughes and Sabathia.
2. Red Sox (22-20) v Philadelphia Phillies (25-15) – The NL-leading Phillies have won more than 60 percent of their games within their own league in the last two years, but have not fared well against AL opponents losing six straight and 13 of their last 14 in interleague play. Boston is coming off their third straight victory, and has won four of six at Citizens Bank Park since the start of 2008, while14-4 against Philadelphia since the start of 2004. Philly is coming off a win that snapped a two game losing skid. Boston should take game one with Lackey on the mound as the Phillies get games two and three, behind solid pitching from Kendrick and Halladay.
3. San Francisco Giants (22-18) v Oakland Athletics (20-22) – Oakland lost five of six to the Giants last season in the Battle of the Bay, and that tied for the majors’ worst interleague record – 5-13. After starting the season strong the A’s have struggled, and are coming into the series behind an offense that has been held to two runs or fewer in six of nine games. The Giants will try to take advantage of Oakland’s cold-hitting streak and avoid a fourth loss in as many tries against the A’s. However, with just a single winning pitcher starting for the Giants in game one, I expect Oakland to grab the remaining two games to clinch the series.
4. Baltimore Orioles (13-29) v Washington Nationals (21-21)- Not as exciting as one may have hoped at this point in the season, but one to include. Washington is entering the series with its neighbors to the north, losing six of seven, but a strong offensive performance in a two-game set with New York, gives the Nationals reason for hope. The O’s continue to struggle and are coming off a 13-7 loss to Texas. Baltimore surrendered 20 hits in that defeat and have lost five of their last six. Washington took four of the six meeting against the O’s last season. I expect the Nationals to sweep this interleague meeting.
5. Cincinnati Reds (23-18) v the Cleveland Indians (15-24) -The Ohio Cup always produces some good baseball. The Reds, who were knocked out of first place in the NL Central and now trail ½ game behind the division-leading Cardinals, will look to take advantage of troubled Tribe team that is teetering on the edge of falling 10 games below .500. The Indians’ offense has been horrific having plated an anemic 12 runs while batting .199 during a four-game losing skid. Cleveland dropped four of six to the Reds last season but lead the series 32-31.I expect Cincinnati to sweep the Indians to regain the top spot in their division when the weekend draws to a close.
6. Milwaukee Brewers (16-25) v Minnesota Twins (24-17)- Minnesota’s three-game slide has dropped it into a first-place tie in the AL Central, but their 108-72 record in interleague games since 2004 ties the Angels for the best in baseball. Since 2005, their 3.31 interleague ERA is tops in the league. For the Brewers, there woes continue as they try to stay within 10 games of the leaders in the NL Central. Milwaukee was 5-10 against the AL in 2009, and outscored 39-19 in losing five of six to Minnesota. The Twins have won nine of 12 overall in the series, getting plenty of production from their big hitters. Look for a solid sweep for the Twins in this one.
7. San Diego (24-17) v Seattle Mariners (15-26) – These two teams share a Spring Training facility and have met many times throughout Interleague play, but this year the two are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum thus far in the season. The Padres are this year’s biggest surprise and come into the series leading the NL West, while the Mariners are this year’s biggest flop having failed to live up to the high expectations that were placed on them following an 85-win season in 2009. Seattle is currently sitting in last place in the AL West and is at the bottom of the league in batting average (.233), homers (22) and runs (136). The Mariners have won the last four season series with San Diego, going 5-1 in 2008 and 4-2 last season. Despite history, I have to go with the Padres winning games two and three after the Mariners start the series with a win behind pitcher Cliff Lee, who has the best interleague record in the majors.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (30-11) v Houston Astros (14-27) – I threw this one in not because I think the Astros have a chance, but because the Rays have the best record in baseball and lead the Yankees by five after sweeping New York two games at home this past week. This series appears to be the biggest mismatch of the weekend. Tampa Bay has the AL’s best ERA at 2.83 while NL-worst Houston has scored the fewest runs in the majors with 122. The Astros have lost six of seven and were shut out for the sixth time Thursday night, while the Rays have won six of their last seven with a total of 36 runs. Houston went 6-9 in interleague play last year while Tampa Bay went 13-5 for the third-best record in the majors. Nothing here but a lot of pain for the Astros as the Rays dominate to extend their lead on the AL East.
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