Mets worth wager

Apr 2, 2002 10:55 AM

The best team money can buy? Well, at the Virgin River, it’s the New York Mets.

“Just look at that lineup,” race and sports director Chris Day said several days before the Mets posted a 6-2 victory over Pittsburgh at Shea Stadium in one of Monday afternoon’s Opening Day baseball contests. “Alomar, Alfonso, Piazza, Vaughn, Burnitz. That’s an outstanding group.”

It’s hard to argue with Day. In fact, Al Leiter, who was the winning pitcher in New York, would not be a bad choice to win the Cy Young. With that offense, the ace southpaw could win 25 games.

 Other Monday afternoon games in the NL saw Atlanta defeat Philadelphia 7-2, Cincinnati edge Chicago 5-4, St. Louis pound Colorado 10-2 and the world champion Arizona Diamondbacks blank San Diego 2-0 behind Randy Johnson’s six-hitter. The ­­favorites went 4-1 on the betting line, while visiting teams were 0-5.

In early American League action Monday, Toronto came from behind after blowing a five-run lead and edged Boston 12-11 in a typical Fenway Park shootout. Minnesota beat Kansas City 8-6, Chicago edged Seattle 6-5 and Baltimore surprised the New York Yankees 10-3 with Scott Erickson beating Roger Clemens as a $1.70 underdog.

“Everything is reflected in the line, and the line is made from the pitchers,” Day said. “Personally, I like giving the run and a half, especially when the totals are higher. It’s better to take that line when Pedro (Martinez) and (Randy) Johnson are pitching,” he said.

Both did pitch Monday, so the advice would have produced a win and a loss. Still, Day’s advice is sound.

“It’s hard to get value when those type of pitchers are on the mound, so you have to take some chances,” Day said. “I think bettors will wind up winning more than losing with that type of play. Whether the run and a half comes at home or away really doesn’t make much difference.”