No DH, nosweat to AL

May 24, 2005 7:02 AM

The opening weekend installment of interleague baseball produced exciting games among traditional rivals and a slight betting edge to the AL.

Not that it was easy. The AL came away with a 23-19 edge over the three days, going 8-6, 8-6 and 7-7. Florida and Toronto were the only teams to sweep.

Houston showed it can’t hit either NL or AL pitching whether or not Roger Clemens is on the mound. The hot teams in baseball — Baltimore, the White Sox, San Diego and St. Louis — each lost at least once in their respective three game series.

AL vs NL is a different animal from the normal Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants, Cards-Cubs rivalries during the year. Do you throw away all the stats prior to interleague play as immaterial, or is this simply a matter of a good baseball team beating a bad one no matter the league?

We’ll side with the latter, for now.

Last year in the first games of the six series, home teams went 53-31, home favorites 36-13 and favorites 54-30. Well this year, the AL opened as the visiting team (meaning no DH) and more than held its own.

”¡ Theory No. 1: There are very few sweeps. That held up. Even Kansas City managed to beat mighty St. Louis.

”¡ Theory No. 2: Bet on the Cubs to avoid being swept in a three or four game series. That’s happened just once in the last 123 series. Well, the White Sox gave it a good run, but form held out Sunday at Wrigley.

”¡ Theory No. 3: Bet on any team going for four straight victories (San Diego) vs. a team (Seattle) trying to avoid three consecutive losses. That suggestion proved unsafe at Safeco as the Mariners took the final two games of the series.

We’ll resume the debate June 10 when Interleague Part II shifts to the DH and American League ballparks.

In between we’ll play all the Jeffs (Peavy and Francis) and Jons (Garland and Lieber) and anyone pitcher named Hernandez, not named Roberto.