MLB News and Notes April 16

MLB News and Notes April 16

Interleague Weekend
By Josh Jacobs

With the exception of Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs the rest of Major League Baseball will begin the annual special of Interleague play. Looking back at historical records (from 1997 until 2007), some teams have used this time of the season as a jumping off point for a successful run to the All-Star break. A reoccurring theme that continued to make headlines, and money for those backing the trend, last season was American League dominance over the NL (for a complete breakdown of records dating back to the 1997 season click here).

Since the two leagues began facing each other back in 1997, the AL has accumulated 70 more wins (1,387 wins for the AL vs. 1,317 wins for the NL). We’re going to take a look at some of last year’s top performing clubs and what might transpire come Friday.

Listed in parentheses are win-losses in Interleague play dating back to 1997 followed by last season’s interleague record.

Detroit (86-89, 14-4)
The Tigers continue to perform as one of baseball’s most underachieving teams. Detroit has alienated any and all backers this season by continuing to burn tickets with a -1288 deficit in the money line department. Whether it’s the pitching staff logging in a 4.96 ERA with a 1.51 WHIP or the bats falling silent (until recently), the Tigers have failed to stop this season’s freefall. Detroit emerged from 2006 with a 15-3 record versus NL clubs, only to continue the success in ’07 with a 14-4 ledger. A .314 BA with 128 RBIs led both leagues in offensive production, while a 3.80 ERA solidified the successful formula of balanced play. Are the Tigers ready to face one of the most talented clubs in Arizona this weekend? If this year’s track record has anything to say about it then the answer must be, NO!

Starters vs. Arizona: 5/16 – J. Bonderman (2-4, 4.80); 5/17 – A. Galarraga (2-1, 3.07); 5/18 – N. Robertson (1-4, 6.04)

Boston (93-82, 12-6)
The Red Sox continued their rampage through the National League in ‘07, increasing its overall record in interleague play to 93-82. Boston has hung its hat on quality pitching. Closing out last season with a 3.88 ERA versus Atlanta, Arizona, Colorado and San Diego, the Sox where not without signs of vulnerability. Boston was responsible for giving up 35 runs in three losses versus the NL last season. But the overall picture was clear as day with the Red Sox offense drilling opponents for 6.3 runs per game in the 12 wins versus clubs aforementioned above. A three-game series against Milwaukee will kickoff the weekend for Boston. With the Brewers slumping in May for a 5-7 record and the Red Sox running on all cylinders from the plate (a .322 BA with 31 RBIs and nine long balls in the last seven days), it's hard to imagine how the visiting underdog will contend.  Milwaukee enters this series with a 9-12 record on the road.

Starters vs. Milwaukee: 5/16 – D. Matsuzaka (6-0, 2.45); 5/17 – T. Wakefield (3-2, 4.25); 5/18 – J. Beckett (4-3, 4.21)

L.A. Angels (90-86, 14-4)
Los Angeles improved its record verus the NL dramatically from ’06 to ’07. It’s been almost one-year since the Angels last met the Dodgers in interleague play. The results where in complete favor of the Halos with the team going 3-0 to start the series off and putting the final touches on the intrastate rivalry with a 5-1 record. The Angles kept their offensive production consistent by averaging 5.5 runs per game, while the pitching staff did its job, holding the Dodgers to a merciless 1.7 runs per game. In fact, the Angels held the Dodgers to scoring two runs or less in five of the six. It’s important to note that the Dodgers will travel to Anaheim for this weekend's showdown. Angles’ starter Joe Saunders (6-1, 2.48) will get the start in Game 1 on Friday and if there’s any indication of which way the pendulum will swing, this writer is banking on another dominant showing by the Halos. Saunders and Ervin Santana, who will both make starting appearances, have combined for a 12-1 record with a combined ERA of 2.55.

Starters vs. L.A. Dodgers: 5/16 – J. Saunders (6-1, 2.48); 5/17 – E. Santana (6-0, 2.63); 5/18 – J. Weaver (2-5, 4.86)

National League Lull

For the National League it’s been a tough battle for clubs to scrape together any positive reinforcement during the interleague period in recent memory. Colorado (66-79, 10-8) was one of the few NL teams to emerge with a winning record last season, going 10-8. The Rockies where lifted above the rest of the NL when it finished ’07 with a .273 BA and a second ranked 97 RBIs. But Colorado has taken a 180 degree turn, amassing a disappointing 15-25 record this season. The Rockies are one of the worst pitching teams in the majors with a 4.80 ERA. Minnesota will make the trek to Colorado this weekend in a three-game series.

Atlanta (91-75, 4-11) was a club who once roamed the NL landscape with plenty of AL kills under its belt. But those days seem to be over as a combined ’06 and ’07 record is now standing at 9-21. One look at the club's 5.08 ERA with only 48 runs scored on offense last year indicates a larger problem then just interleague performance. An 8-3 record in May gives higher hope for the Braves with a quarter of the season already in the books, and a 3.61 ERA this season ranks fourth best in the both leagues. Atlanta will prepare to host Oakland this weekend with Game 1 beginning at 7:35 p.m. EDT.

Although the Marlins (96-72, 9-9) have had two consecutive years of 9-9 records versus their AL opponents, this crew still holds the best performance in interleague play (in the NL) since 1997. Even more promising is Florida’s first place positioning in the NL East at this point in the season. There’s no sugar coating a three-game slide, especially against the slumping Reds, but a 7-3 record in its last 10 has the baseball community eyeing Florida closely. The Marlins where able to record an impressive .284 BA last season in the 18 games played against AL teams, but a 4.87 ERA helped nullify the offensive power.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 16

Overrated Injury Impact
By Joe Nelson

Injuries are part of baseball and every team will have to deal with some setbacks over the course of the year. Some are obviously detrimental while others may provide a valuable opportunity for a player ready to break out. Big name position player injuries get considerable attention but the impact on teams is typically overrated.

As seen below many teams that have lost a star player have continued at similar or even improved clips. Injuries to pitchers can be a bit more damaging but the impact is tougher to quantify. Most teams have very capable players to plug into the lineup off the bench or in the minor leagues if a key player misses time. If the injury lasts for several months an impact can be more noticeable but in the short term most teams can survive and even uncover a talented player. Many great players got their chance to see everyday action due to an injury to a veteran and it is not always a bad thing to shake up the lineup a bit. Here are some of big name players currently on the DL and a look at the short term impact.

Jorge Posada, C, New York (20-21 overall, 8-8 without Posada)
Posada has certainly established himself as one of the great catchers in baseball and he is coming off a career season, hitting .338 in 2007. Posada was hitting .302 before hitting the DL, and his loss should not be understated for his leadership and comfort level with the Yankees pitching staff. With that said, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang are the only Yankee starters that have pitched enough with Posada to expect an impact with the change. Mussina was typically caught by Jose Molina in many games anyhow and he is 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in the last four starts since the Posada injury. Staff ace Wang has an ERA of 1.67 with Molina behind the plate versus a 3.93 ERA with Posada. Andy Pettitte actually has pitched best with Chad Moeller behind the plate giving two solid starts for an ERA of 1.93. With Molina, Pettitte’s ERA is 5.09 and with Posada it is 6.30. Posada’s bat has been missed but his absence can not be blamed for the poor record in New York.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York (20-21 overall, 8-9 without Rodriguez)
New York’s offense has been very unproductive this season and an easy excuse is the injury to Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees lineup is missing last season’s MVP but New York is 8-9 in games without Rodriguez this season, a bit worse than the 12-12 record with him in the lineup. Rodriguez had produced good overall numbers on the season but was not close to approaching the hot clip he started the 2007 season at. Morgan Ensberg has certainly been a downgrade for New York, hitting just .224 with only one home run but the Yankees have had bigger problems to blame for the mediocre results.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado (15-25, 5-9 without Tulowitzki)
Troy Tulowitzki’s injury seems likely to take a toll on the Rockies and Colorado is just 5-9 since he has exited the lineup. It has been an awful season for the Rockies and Colorado had gone 2-9 in the eleven games prior to his injury so it can not be considered a major factor in the decline from the great run in 2007. Tulowitzki was hitting .152 on the season and although his defense and leadership will be missed he was not helping the Rockies win with his bat so far in 2008. Tulowitzki’s replacement Clint Barmes is hitting .337 so the Rockies and Barmes had great big-league success at the plate before his own injury brought an opportunity for other Rockies players. Barmes has made just one error in 13 games so far this season as well so his defense has been good enough to fill Tulowitzki’s shoes.

Hank Blalock, 3B, Texas (20-22, 11-5 without Blalock)
After a defining moment at the All-Star game a few years ago everyone is still waiting for Hank Blalock to be a consistent slugger for the Rangers. Blalock was hitting .299 with three home runs so he was off to a solid start but the Rangers were not. Since his exit however the Rangers have been hot and Blalock’s replacement Ramon Vazquez has been a big part of it. Vazquez is hitting .333 with 7 RBIs and 13 runs in just 66 at-bats. Those numbers best Blalock’s production in significantly fewer at-bats. He hit a walk-off home run in a recent game and his defense has been comparable so the Rangers may not need to rush Blalock back into action as long as the wins keep coming.

Josh Willingham, LF, Florida (23-17, 8-6 without Willingham)
The Marlins have one of the top records in baseball despite missing a key bat from the middle of the lineup in May. Willingham was a key part of the hot start for Florida hitting .341 with six home runs, 16 RBIs, and 16 runs. Florida is still playing great ball with veteran Luis Gonzalez playing everyday in left field. Gonzalez does not have quite the run-producing numbers that Willingham was delivering but he is actually riding a seven-game hitting streak and hitting .333 since moving into a regular spot in the lineup. Gonzalez provides a veteran presence and gives quality at-bats and the Marlins have not dropped off despite the shuffle in the lineup. Once Willingham returns to the plate, the Marlins can only benefit from having Gonzalez with more playing time under his belt.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 16

Valdez goes on DL with elbow injury
May 15, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Merkin Valdez is almost two years out from reconstructive right elbow surgery, so the San Francisco Giants aren't about to take a risk with his health now.

The Giants placed the hard-throwing righty reliever on the disabled list Thursday with a strained elbow on his throwing arm, which isn't believed to be related to his surgery on Sept. 27, 2006.

He underwent an MRI exam Thursday and said it revealed inflammation.

``It doesn't have anything to do with the ligament,'' Valdez said. ``With therapy and rest, I have faith everything is going to be fine.''

Valdez wasn't available for several days late last week because of tightness in his arm, said he was much better, then felt some discomfort again the day after he made his latest relief appearance Monday night against the Houston Astros. He threw Tuesday and felt OK, then his arm began hurting.

``We'll find out what's going on,'' manager Bruce Bochy said before Thursday's 8-7 loss in the finale with the Astros. ``We don't want to put him back out there and risk a setback. This guy did have surgery not all that long ago. We want to err on the side of caution.''

When the Giants got Valdez in a trade with the Braves in December 2002 that sent Russ Ortiz to Atlanta, he was considered one of the organization's top prospects. Then the elbow problem derailed what might have been a rapid ascent to the majors.

After missing all of 2007 following surgery, the 26-year-old Dominican made the opening-day roster this season for the first time. Many other clubs expressed interest in acquiring him this spring, too, but Giants general manager Brian Sabean wasn't about to let him get away.

Valdez is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 17 appearances and 16 innings, including one start. He had limited opponents to a .222 average over his last 16 outings with 12 strikeouts and six walks for a 1.20 ERA during that span.

The Giants called up left-hander Alex Hinshaw and purchased his contract from Triple-A Fresno, clearing room on the 40-man roster by transferring infielder Kevin Frandsen to the 60-day disabled list. Frandsen is out for the season recovering from surgery on his ruptured Achilles' tendon.

Hinshaw made his major league debut in the eighth.

``At this point we need another arm in the bullpen,'' Bochy said. ``He's been throwing well. He's earned this.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 16

Rockies place RHP Speier on DL
May 15, 2008

PHOENIX (AP) -The Colorado Rockies placed right-hander Ryan Speier on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder contusion on Thursday, retroactive to May 12.

The club recalled lefty Josh Newman from Triple-A Colorado Springs in a corresponding move.

Speier made his last appearance on Sunday in San Diego and was hit in the shoulder by a ball hit by the Padres' Tadahito Iguchi. Speier is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 15 games this season.

Newman is in his second stint with Colorado. He had a 3.86 ERA in four games from April 25-May 3.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 16

Nationals 1B Nick Johnson put on disabled list
May 15, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) -Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist.

He is expected to miss four to six weeks. Washington plans to activate first baseman Dmitri Young from the DL on Friday.

Young went on the disabled list April 8, retroactive to April 3, with a lower back sprain. He had been on a rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg.

Johnson was injured on a swing late in Tuesday night's game.

The oft-injured Johnson missed last season while recovering from a broken leg. He is batting .220 with five homers and 20 RBIs this year. He has walked 33 times, however, giving him a .415 on-base percentage.

Aaron Boone started at first base Thursday. He broke up Mike Pelfrey's no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the seventh inning and had two key assists in the field during Washington's 1-0 win.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 16

Baseball Today

New York Mets at New York Yankees (7:05 p.m.) Interleague play starts with Johan Santana on the mound for the Mets in the first game of the Subway Series. The two-time Cy Young winner's start was pushed back a day so he could pitch at Yankee Stadium against Darrell Rasner.

STARS

-Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks, gave up three runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings to win his major league-leading ninth game in an 8-5 victory over the Rockies.

-Aaron Laffey, Indians, gave up an unearned run over seven innings in a 4-2 win over the Athletics. Laffey gave up five hits and a walk filling in for Jake Westbrook.

-Gary Bennett, Dodgers, homered, doubled and drove in four runs in a 7-2 win over Milwaukee.

-Jason Bergmann, Nationals, gave up three hits and a pair of walks in seven innings of a 1-0 win over the Mets. Recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game, Bergmann struck out nine.

-Jose Guillen, Royals, homered and drove in three runs in an 8-4 win over the Tigers.

-Ryan Dempster, Cubs, gave up six hits and a walk pitching into the ninth inning in a 4-0 win over the Padres. He struck out 12 before giving way to Kerry Wood for the final two outs.

-Lance Berkman, Astros, hit his major league-leading 15th homer into McCovey Cove to help Houston rally from a 6-0 deficit in an 8-7 victory over the Giants.

DRESSED TO THE NINES


Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb sure looks spiffy just about every time he takes the mound. The right-hander beat Colorado on Thursday night and has won his first nine starts, the most since San Diego's Andy Hawkins won his first 10 in 1985, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Webb has won 11 straight starts dating to last September.

PAYING OFF

Scott Kazmir sparkled in his first start since agreeing to a $28.5 million extension, allowing three singles in six scoreless innings of Tampa Bay's 5-2 win over the Yankees. The 24-year-old left-hander agreed Wednesday to a three-year extension through 2011, a deal with a club option that could raise the contract's value to $39.5 million over four seasons.

SPLISH-SPLASH

Lance Berkman landed his major league-leading 15th home run into McCovey Cove, breaking a ninth-inning tie and helping the Astros rally past the Giants 8-7. Berkman also hit a two-run single and is riding a 14-game hitting streak. He went 7-for-15 (.467) with three homers and seven RBIs during the series.

ROYAL WHIPPING


If only Kansas City could play the Tigers all season. Jose Guillen homered and drove in three runs to back Gil Meche, and the Royals beat the Tigers 8-4 to complete a three-game sweep. Kansas City is 6-0 this season against Detroit, which has lost four straight and 10 of 12 to plummet into last place in the AL Central.

STREAK SNAPPED

An unearned run against Aaron Laffey caused by his own throwing error ended the scoreless streak by Cleveland starters at 44 1-3 innings. Not that it mattered - the Indians still beat the Athletics 4-2. The streak was the longest by Cleveland starters since Bob Lemon, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak and Satchel Paige strung together 47 scoreless innings in August 1948 - all had complete-game shutouts. It was the longest run by a major league team in one season since a 54-inning streak by Baltimore from Sept. 1-7, 1974, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

WELCOME BACK

Jason Bergmann, recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game, gave up three hits and struck out nine in the Nationals' 1-0 win over the Mets. Bergmann (1-1) had made two previous starts for Washington this season, the most recent on April 9, and came in with a 10.45 ERA. He outpitched Mike Pelfrey, who carried a no-hit bid into the seventh for New York.

SPEAKING

``That's a question I ask, 'How we can sweep this team twice with the type of offense that they have?' That's baseball. You see some stuff you're never going to believe, but we did it.'' -Jose Guillen, whose homer helped Kansas City beat Detroit 8-4 on Thursday and move the Royals to 6-0 against the Tigers this season.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 16

INTERLEAGUE

N.Y. Mets (20-19) at N.Y. Yankees (20-22)


The Mets send star left-hander Johan Santana (4-2, 3.10 ERA) to the hill against the cross-town rival Yankees and a much-less experienced right-hander in Darrell Rasner (2-0, 3.00) to open a three-game interleague series at Yankee Stadium.

The Mets head to the Bronx after having dropped three of four at home against Washington, getting shut out 1-0 on Thursday in the series finale. They have lost four of their last six games. The Yanks, meanwhile, lost three of four games at Tampa Bay, including Thursday’s 5-2 setback to cap the series, and they are 3-6 in their last nine games.

These two teams split their two series in 2007, with each winning three games and each taking one contest on the road. In fact, over the last three years, the series is tied 9-9, with the home team going 10-8. However, the Yankees are 18-7 in the last 25 head-to-head clashes in the Bronx.

Santana, who will make his ninth start of the season, has helped the Mets to wins in each of his last five starts, going 3-0 with a pair of no decisions. On Saturday against Cincinnati, he scattered 10 hits and allowed three runs in six innings as New York won 12-6 at home. Santana is 3-1 with a more-than-respectable 2.38 ERA in five starts on the highway this season, and he is 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA in five lifetime starts (eight appearances) against the Yankees.

Rasner, a 27-year-old who has just 12 starts and 19 total appearances over the past four years, moved back into the rotation this season and has won both his outings. He allowed two runs on four hits in six innings Saturday in a 5-2 win at Detroit, which followed a two-run, five-hit effort in an 8-2 victory over Seattle on May 4. Rasner is 0-1 against the Mets, having given up two hits and two runs before suffering a hand injury without recording an out in a 10-7 loss last May. That ended up being his final big-league of the 2007 season.

The Mets are on streaks of 9-4 as a road favorite, 4-1 as an interleague chalk, 8-3 in Friday contests, 5-0 with Santana starting a series opener and 4-1 with Santana a road favorite. On the negative side, the Mets are 10-26 in their last 26 interleague roadies and 6-19 in their last 25 on the highway overall.

The Yankees are on impressive runs of 23-5 at home facing lefties in interleague play, 47-14 in interleague home games, 14-6 at home against winning teams, 37-16 at home after a road trip of seven or more days, 6-2 as an underdog, 4-1 in Rasner’s last five starts against winning teams and 5-2 in Rasner’s last seven starts overall. However, the Yanks are in slumps of 1-5 as a home pup, 1-5 in interleague play, 1-5 in series openers and 2-7 on Friday.

With Santana pitching, the over for the Mets is on streaks of 5-0 in series openers and 5-1 overall. Behind Rasner, the over is 4-1 for the Yankees against winning teams, but the under is 5-2-1 in his last eight outings overall.

The “over” trends run heavy for the Mets, including 6-3 overall, 4-1 in interleague road games, 8-3 against losing teams, 18-6 on the highway against losing teams and 12-5 as a road chalk. The under, though, is 11-4-1 in the Mets’ last 16 interleague games against losing teams, 40-19-5 in their last 64 Friday contests and 27-13-3 in their past 43 an interleague favorite.

For the Yankees, the under is on streaks of 40-10-1 overall, 5-0 in the Bronx, 6-1 with the Yanks as a ‘dog, 4-1 on Friday, 8-2 in interleague play against winning teams, 4-1-1 in series openers and 13-5 against winning teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. METS


L.A. Dodgers (21-19) at L.A. Angels (24-19)

Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (1-2, 3.59 ERA) will toe the slab for the Dodgers when they travel to Angel Stadium to face the neighboring rival Angels, who will hand the ball to solid left-hander Joe Saunders (6-1, 2.48) to start a three-game interleague set.

The Dodgers enter this series having just taken two of three on the road against Milwaukee, losing the opener and winning the next two, including a 7-2 rout Thursday afternoon. Those wins snapped a five-game slide for the Dodgers, who are just 4-6 in their last 10.

The Angels have dropped six of their last eight games after Thursday’s 4-3 setback to the White Sox, which capped a four-game home series.

The Angels took five of six in this Southern California rivalry last season, sweeping a three-game home series in May. Each of the Angels’ five victories came by at least three runs, as the Halos bookended the six games with a 9-1 home win and a 10-4 road win. The Angels are 7-1 in the last eight clashes against the Dodgers and 17-5 in the last 22 battles at Angel Stadium.

Kuroda, a Japanese hurler in his first year in the majors, is making his ninth start of the year, but he hasn’t gotten a decision in more than three weeks. The Dodgers are 3-1 in his last four starts, all no-decisions for Kuroda, who yielded just one run on one hit in 6 2/3 innings Sunday, then watched his bullpen implode in an 8-5 home loss to Houston. Kuroda’s 1-2 mark this year has all come on the road, where he has a 2.81 ERA.

The Angels prevailed in each of Saunders’ first seven outings of the year, with the starter nabbing six wins and a no-decision. On Saturday, Saunders allowed just one run on four hits in six innings at Tampa Bay, but the Angels gave him no offensive support in a 2-0 loss. Saunders, who has never faced the Dodgers, is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in four starts at home this year, improving his brief career home numbers to 11-5 with a 4.43 ERA in 16 starts.

The Dodgers are on an 8-0 tear against left-handed starters and are 5-0 in their last five roadies against lefties, 6-2 in their last eight series openers and 7-2 in their last eight on the highway. But the trends turn negative from there, including 19-37 as a road underdog, 14-37 as an interleague pup, 10-29 overall in interleague play, 4-23 in interleague road matchups and 1-10 against lefties in interleague play.

The Angels sport a bunch of positive trends, including 10-1 in interleague home games, 14-3 as an interleague chalk, 7-1 against the National League West, 5-2 as a favorite, 4-2 at home and 35-17 at home against winning teams. In addition, the Angels are 21-8 in Saunders’ last 29 starts overall, 4-0 with Saunders starting at home, 5-0 with Saunders favored, 12-2 in Saunders’ last 14 series openers and 11-2 with Saunders going on five days’ rest.

The over is on streaks of 4-0 in Kuroda’s last four starts on four days’ rest, 6-1 with Saunders going on five days’ rest, 4-1-1 for Saunders in series openers, 5-2-1 against winning teams and 9-4-1 with Saunders a favorite.

In addition, the over for the Dodgers is on runs of 9-2 on Friday, 18-6 in series openers, 5-2 in roadies against winning teams, 10-4 overall against winning teams and 5-2 in interleague play. The under, though, is 35-17-3 in the Dodgers’ last 55 interleague road games. For the Angels, the under is on spurts of 18-8-2 overall, 11-4-1 at home and 7-2-2 on Friday, but the over is 5-2 in their last seven in interleague play.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. ANGELS and OVER

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Tips for betting MLB Interleague play
By DAVID CHAN

Interleague play is upon us and whether you’re a supporter of it or not, there’s no denying it adds a different element to the marathon baseball season.

There’s the obvious contrast in styles between American League and National League teams, as well as the vast number of unfamiliar matchups from year to year. So here are a few tips that can help you keep your bankroll intact while some AL pitchers dig out their batting helmets from the bottom of the closet.

AL dominance is no fluke

In 2006 the American League posted a .611 winning percentage in interleague play. While the junior circuit cooled off considerably in 2007, it still held a substantial 137-115 (.544) edge. This isn’t a short-term trend by any stretch. The AL has won the battle in each of the last four, and six of the last eight seasons. It’s simply a case of the AL bats being significantly stronger while the pitching has essentially become a wash. Despite the AL’s apparent dominance, remember that National League teams have still won 213 interleague games over the last two seasons.

Keep an eye on the underdogs

While the home teams have a more pronounced advantage during interleague play, it doesn’t mean you should blindly bet them. With players switching leagues more than ever thanks to the current state of free agency, it isn’t as big of a deal for an American League pitcher to take his hacks over in a National League park. By the same token, the AL teams aren’t the only ones that benefit from having a DH in their lineup. Most NL teams have at least one big bat on their bench that is just itching to fill the role. More often than not oddsmakers will overvalue home teams and that opens the door for us to cash some healthy underdogs.

Let the runline be your friend

Don’t hesitate to lay the extra run when value presents itself. For whatever reason, we tend to see a higher percentage of lopsided results over the course of interleague play. During the opening weekend of IL action a year ago, 34 of 42 games (81 percent) were decided by at least two runs. I try to avoid laying the extra run with big favorites. Instead I’ll look to turn teams priced in the –110 to –150 range into substantial plus-money payouts by giving the run-and-a-half.

Teams to watch

It may surprise you to find out that the Oakland A’s are tied for the most wins all-time in interleague play. At 113-81 they’re just a few percentage points behind the Yankees for the best IL record in baseball. In the NL, it’s the Florida Marlins leading the charge at 105-81. All three of those teams were .500 or better last season. The Baltimore Orioles own the worst record in the American League at 79-114 while the Pittsburgh Pirates pull up the rear in the NL at 57-94. Not surprisingly, both teams suffered through losing IL campaigns a year ago.

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