We’re entering the second phase of inter-league baseball, with a pair of contests offering the most interesting matchups: N.Y. Mets at N.Y. Yankees and the Braves at Boston Red Sox.
And, don’t overlook the meeting between the Seattle Mariners and the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Hometown fans are hoping that this will be a prelude to a World Series event.
Games for week ending July 8:
N.Y. Mets at N.Y. Yankees: Recent games indicate that the Yankees are starting to heat up with an improved bullpen, after a run of poor performances. They appear to be much stronger going into the second half of the season. Look for the Yanks to celebrate by taking two of the three games. Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens do the honors.
Chicago Cubs at Detroit Tigers: Cubs and Tigers once met in the World Series but does anyone really remember? This year, the Cubs have designs on a first-place finish in the N.L. Central Division. The Tigers can only hope to become a future threat. Cubs with Jon Lieber and Julian Tavarez win two.
St. Louis Cardinals at Cleveland Indians: Cards ran into a San Francisco team that refused to lose. The Indians fell victim to a revitalized Kansas City club, whose previously dormant bats came back from the grave. This makes it a tough series to figure. Better to look at taking games to go over in the totals on Friday and Sunday with a double play Sunday.
Montreal Expos at Toronto Blue Jays: Looking forward to this point, the Blue Jays thought they would be in a better position to challenge the Yankees. No such luck! Now the Expos could further spoil Toronto’s plans by winning a couple of games with Mark Thurman and Javier Vasquez putting together the victories.
Philadelphia Phillies at Baltimore Orioles: The Phils could have picked a better time to meet the recently revived Orioles, who have been playing decent ball. However, we have to figure the Phils are over their recent slump so we take the visitors in all games where Jose Mercedes is not on the mound for the O’s.
Atlanta Braves at Boston Red Sox: Here we have the hottest team in baseball (Braves) meeting the team with the longest list of walking wounded (BoSox). Greg Maddux can be counted on to notch a victory at Fenway but hometowners Tim Wakefield and Hideo Nomo will salvage some respect for the home team.
Florida Marlins at Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Marlins recently tanked against the Phils despite having an early lead in all four defeats. But, we look for the visitors to get well in this series and leave town with a sweep. Brad Penny and A.J. Burnett will register two of the victories.
Houston Astros at K.C. Royals: Bad time for the Astros to motor to Kansas City, where the Royals are red hot. If the Royals can’t beat you with pitching, they’ll do it with their bats. Jeff Suppan and Dan Reichert do the winning for K.C.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are determined to get back into the playoff picture and here they will have the right opponent to help them move forward. Sox should take two with James Baldwin and Rocky Biddle doing the hurling and may add a third win with Kip Wells.
Cincinnati Reds at Minnesota Twins: Twins are playing like they belong in first place in the A.L. Central Division while the Reds are trying to revive their sagging hopes and somehow get back into the playoff race. Forget the Reds’ chances when they face the Twins’ Joe Mays and Eric Milton.
Anaheim Angels at Colorado Rockies: Here we have the Rockies who have had trouble winning at home while the Angels have had trouble winning anything. Look for the runs to come in droves but we’ll stick with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle to grab a couple of wins.
Oakland Athletics at Arizona Diamondbacks: The finish line is still a long way off but the D’backs are showing signs that they will carry their successes all the way. They are getting timely hitting while their pitching has received help from surprising sources. The A’s can play the role of spoiler here but they’ll have to be at their best. Going against Brian Anderson and rookie Robert Ellis.
Texas Rangers at San Diego Padres: If any team has had a disappointing season, so far, it has been the Rangers. Trying to bring back some of their previous prestige and dignity will be difficult since they will have to out-hit the Padres. Their pitching just won’t work. Look for overs in the totals in this series, especially when Rob Bell and Kenny Rogers take the hill.
Seattle Mariners at L.A. Dodgers: Good-looking matchup to spice up this week’s schedule. Dodgers will throw their aces Kevin Brown and Chan Ho Park while the Mariners will counter with Freddy Garcia. We’ll go with Garcia over anybody and Brown against Moyer or some lesser light.
Milwaukee Brewers at San Francisco Giants: Brewers are free and loose in this contest while the Giants are uptight. Still, San Francisco is extremely tough at home and will put the pressure on the Brewers. Not easy to pick but we’ll go with Ben Sheets unless his opponent is Russ Ortiz.