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Nearly 40 games (or one quarter) complete, this weekend marks the start of interleague play for 2011.

Play starts with just a single such series before resuming and concluding with five series from mid June to the beginning of July.

This is the 15th season of interleague play and while there remain pockets of resistance among many of the old line “traditionalists” play between the leagues has largely been well received by the masses. This is especially true in the case of natural or regional rivalries such as Mets/Yankees, Dodgers/Angels or Royals/Cardinals.

The American League has had the upper hand in Interleague play in recent seasons. Last season AL teams were 134-118 in regular season play between the leagues, winning slightly better than 53 percent of the games. But the 18 game margin was the smallest edge enjoyed by the junior circuit since 2004 so perhaps the National League has a chance of overtaking the AL this season.

The week begins with several teams in the midst of significant streaks. Detroit has the longest current winning streak at 7, while Toronto is working on a 5-game win streak.

Four teams are on losing streaks of 5 or more, headed by Minnesota’s 8. Seattle has lost its last 6 heading into Monday while Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees sought to end 5 game losing streaks.

Pittsburgh is seeking to end 18 straight seasons with a losing record and the Pirates stood at 18-17 before last Tuesday’s loss to the Dodgers which started their five game slide. The task for things to turn around immediately may be tough with four road games this week before hosting red hot Detroit over the weekend in interleague play.

Our run lines feature, originally planned for this issue, shall be delayed until next week. Briefly, however, run line betting is similar in many respects to wagering on basketball and football where point spreads are involved and rather than betting on the straight up winner of the game, it’s the margin of victory or defeat that determines the outcome of your wagers.

Here’s a look at four of the more interesting Interleague series that shall be played this weekend.

Cubs at Red Sox: Two of the most storied franchises in all of sports square off at one of sports’ most hallowed venues, Fenway Park. Nearly a century old, Fenway has seen its share of baseball history and the fortunes of the Red Sox franchise have turned in recent seasons with a pair of World Series titles over the past decade. The Cubs have gone more than a century without such an accomplishment.

Both teams got off to slow starts in 2011 and while the Red Sox seem to have turned things around by getting to .500 following a three game sweep of their hated rival Yankees this past weekend, the Cubbies have yet to get untracked, sitting in fifth place in the NL Central at 17-21. The Cubs have gotten poor starting pitching and not much timely hitting. Their four primary starting pitchers each have ERAs above 4 and the offense is averaging a below average 4.0 runs per game.

Boston’s offense has been much better at home than on the road and the starting pitching has picked up in recent weeks with Josh Beckett an early contender for Cy Young Award honors with his 1.75 ERA and 0.90 WHIP through 8 starts. Clay Buchholz has also gotten back into solid form over his past few starts.

Preferred plays:

• Red Sox -140 or less in any matchup.

• Red Sox -160 or less in a start by Beckett.

• Cubs +150 or more not facing Beckett or Buchholz.

• OVER 9 or less in starts not involving Beckett, Buchholz or Jon Lester.

Rangers at Phillies: Philadelphia has the best record in the NL as they are favorites to make a third World Series appearance in four seasons. Texas is looking to return to the World Series after losing to San Francisco last season. Philly has perhaps baseball’s best rotations over the past quarter century with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.

Lee was instrumental in Texas’ post season success but chose in the offseason to return to Philadelphia, the team with which he had great success with in 2009. Texas’ rotation is decent with their most effective starter rookie Alexi Ogando. C J Wilson has been next best with the remaining three regular starters having ERAs between 4.00 and 5.00.

Neither offense has been as explosive as expected with Texas struggling on the road (3.9 runs per game) while delivering a solid 5.2 runs per game at home.

Preferred plays:

• Rangers +150 or more in any matchup.

• Rangers as underdogs of any price in a start by Ogando;

• Phillies -140 or less in any matchup.

• UNDER 9 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 8 or higher if Hamels or Halladay face Ogando.

Mets at Yankees: The circus that is the New York media really intensifies this weekend as the Mets and Yankees play the first of their two series. Not much was expected from the Mets this season as a result of financial issues involving ownership and their 19-21 record through Sunday is more of a pleasant surprise than a disappointment.

The Yanks’ 20-18 mark is a clear disappointment considering their talent and payroll and they start the week after having been swept at home by Boston and with controversy surrounding aging veterans Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. This series promises to be entertaining at the very least.

Neither team has gotten much in the way of starting pitching although the Yanks’ starters have the better stats. The Yankees have gotten much of their run production via the home run with their 60 home runs 11 better than any other team. But their ability to deliver base hits in key situations has been poor.

Preferred plays:

• Mets +150 or more in any matchup.

• Yankees -135 or less in any matchup.

• OVER 8 or lower in any matchup.

Braves at Angels: Both teams are playing winning baseball with almost identical records, a few games above .500. This series should feature several solid pitching matchups. The Angels are led by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, each of whom has had stellar starts to their seasons, allowing less than one base runner per inning through 9 starts.

Atlanta has a solid trio of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. More than half of the starts for both teams have produced efforts of at least 6 innings while allowing 2 earned runs or less. Neither offense is above average with Atlanta’s equally as productive at home as on the road.

The Angels have been significantly more productive on the road (5.0 runs per game) than at home where they average just 3.0 runs per game, fourth lowest in all of baseball.

Preferred plays:

• Braves as underdogs of any price in starts by Hudson, Hanson or Jurrjens.

• Angels -130 or less against any other Atlanta starter.

• UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup.

• UNDER 7 or higher if Hudson, Hanson or Jurrjens opposes Haren or Weaver.






About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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