Interleague play could bring
more sweeping results

Jun 20, 2006 7:14 AM

Broom baseball was played this past weekend.

What is "broom baseball" you ask? Interleague play continues for another two weeks and the biggest story from this past weekend was that nine of the 14 series resulted in three game sweeps. Punctuating the weekend of sweeps was the lone National League series in which St. Louis swept the Colorado Rockies.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the sweeps was San Diego. The Padres took two of three from the Los Angeles Angels while NL West foes San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado and the Los Angeles Dodgers were each swept. These events enabled the Padres to tie the Dodgers for the lead in the NL West.

These events made the NL West baseball’s most competitive. A scant two games separates first from last and the only division in which the bottom team trails the leader by less than seven games.

Through last weekend home teams were winning at a 53.4 percent clip, while the OVER totals are hitting at 52.3 for the year. Both numbers are within historical norms.

Here’s a look at four of the interleague series this weekend.

Reds at Indians: Cleveland manager Eric Wedge has to be feeling the heat. A poor performance in this instate rivalry could signal the end of his tenure. Cincinnati has gotten better than expected pitching from starters Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Eric Milton has been sharp since returning from the DL. The bullpen, however, has struggled.

Preferred plays: REDS as underdogs in starts by Harang, Arroyo or Milton. OVER 9 or lower in starts by Cleveland’s Jason Johnson or Cliff Lee against any Cincy starter. UNDER 9 or higher if the Cincy trio faces Jake Westbrook or CC Sabathia.

Cards at Tigers: Shades of the 1968 World Series. Even without injured star Albert Pujols, the St. Louis lineup is deep enough and others have contributed to a strong offense. Detroit is well balanced, getting some excellent pitching both from starters and the bullpen. The offense is underrated. Manager Jim Leyland has made the right moves and this team believes.

Preferred plays: TIGERS as an underdog. OVER 9 or lower. UNDER 8 if Chris Carpenter faces Detroit’s Kenny Rogers.

Marlins at Yankees: Florida is playing its best baseball of the season, beginning the week on an eight game winning streak. Rookie Marlins manager Joe Girardi is an ex-Yankees bench coach , Girardi has shown he has a solid grasp of the game and is giving his team time to develop. Timely hitting and better than expected pitching have contributed to Florida’s improvement. The Yankees have one of baseball’s most potent lineups even with a pair of stars on the DL. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have slumped of late, however.

Preferred Plays: MARLINS as underdogs, UNDER 8 if Dontrelle Willis or Josh Johnson oppose the Yankees ace Mike Mussina. YANKEES -1½ otherwise. OVER 9 not involving Willis, Johnson or Mussina.

A’s at Giants: No team is hotter than Oakland, winners of 10 in a row as the week begins. The offense is improving weekly and the pitching has been solid with Danny Haren and Barry Zito anchoring the staff. The bullpen has been effective behind Houston Street. Giants are healthier with several starting pitchers and key offensive cog Moises Alou back from injury. And, there’s Barry Bonds still chasing Aaron.

Preferred plays: OAKLAND -120 in starts by Haren or Zito or as underdogs facing Matt Morris or Jamey Wright. UNDER 8 if Haren or Zito face Jason Schmidt. OVER 9 otherwise.