On The Mark by Mark Mayer | Most every baseball season is a head-scratcher, but the latest quandary concerns the inability of teams to win consistently on the road.
Only four American League teams and two in the National are above .500 away from home. And, San Francisco with a 22-22 road mark is 17-28 at home! It’s no wonder the house wins more often than not.
The team with the best road record, the LA Angels, just may be the top banana. The Angels have had three-game winning streaks or longer eight times. The Halos are .500 or better with all five of their starters – 12-4 with Joe Saunders, 7-2 with John Lackey, 10-7 with Ervin Santana, 10-8 with Jon Garland and 9-9 with Jared Weaver. Plus, closer Frankie Rodriguez (34 saves) is on pace for 65.
The Angels will be put to the test in the AL West this week with four games at Texas and three at Oakland. Speaking of Texas, notice the projected run totals. In June, Rangers games closed at 10 runs or more 16 times, compared to 10 in May and 11 in April. Already, Texas has two in July including a 10½ this past Saturday at Baltimore.
With that said, Texas has more unders than overs – 44-39-6. Also note that the Angels are 51-34-3 to the under.
Shifting gears to the NL West, you have to feel good if possessing a Los Angeles Dodgers bet ticket to win the World Series at 20-1. The Dodgers quite often have trouble scoring a run, yet find themselves within a couple of games of fading Arizona. LA now has Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones back in the lineup, although they haven’t missed AJ one bit.
It’s time to address three superstar pitchers, who have been anything but that.
• Arizona is 6-9 with Randy Johnson.
• The New York Mets are 2-5 with Pedro Martinez and 9-9 with Johan Santana.
We’ll go light on Santana since most of his problems are lack of offense. The Mets have dropped his last five starts, scoring a combined 11 runs. Pedro and the Big Unit are another story. They look old and very hittable.
One pitcher bubbling under the radar is Manny Parra of the Milwaukee Brewers.
In his last four starts, the Brewers won 7-0, 7-3, 5-1 and led Arizona 5-0 after eight innings until blowing that lead in the team’s biggest choke job since 1998.
Parra, who did not pitch the ninth, is projected to start Tuesday at Miller Park against Colorado.
Let’s give a shout out to the Seattle Mariners, at one time the worst team in the majors (27-48). The M’s are 9-3 since and considered a bet-on team if they survive this week’s road trip to Oakland and Kansas City. The next homestand is July 18-23 against Cleveland and Boston, who together are 36-56 on the road.
And what about those Minnesota Twins! Minne Ha Ha is laughing all the way toward the lead in the AL Central, going 16-2 since June 18. The Twins has not lost consecutive games in nearly a month (June 10-11).
In early columns we focused on Livan Hernandez, who has the Twins 13-6 in his starts. But there’s a whole lot more from pitchers you’ve probably never heard of.
The Twins are 8-4 with Scott Baker, 10-7 with Nick Blackburn, 7-5 with Glen Perkins and have a 5-0 streak when Kevin Slowey pitches.
A big test for the Twins this week comes on the road at Boston and Detroit. Speaking of the Red Sox, after a 10-0 start Boston is just 1-3 in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s last four starts.
FYI: Now with the Yankees, Sir Sidney Ponson had another over result, his ninth in 11 outings.