Thank goodness for the Red Wings and the Pistons. At least
for the next month or two, the Detroit area fans will have a reason to cheer.
Detroit’s NHL and NBA teams have captured high seeds for
their respective Playoff runs while the baseball franchise, the Tigers, still
seeks their first win of the two week old season. At 0-11 the Tigers are off to
their worst start in almost a century.
The biggest positive surprise thus far has been Cleveland.
The Indians have won 11 of 12 games and are riding a ten game winning streak
entering the week. Seattle is also off to a strong start, winning ten of 13
games and yet to lose on the road as the week starts. But Texas continues to
disappoint with only three wins in twelve games. Their failure to beef up the
pitching may prove even more costly during the heat of a Texas summer.
There are no extreme performances in the National League
where San Francisco has the best record of 9-3 and Milwaukee has the worst at
3-9. The NL East is the most tightly bunched division with only a game and a
half separating first from fifth. The division races are taking on unique
personalities already. The NL East should wind up as the most balanced division
at season’s end.
Injuries are always the unknown factor and barely two weeks
into the season there have been significant and potentially costly injuries. Ken
Griffey Jr of Cincinnati, Mo Vaughn of the Mets and closer Troy Percival of the
Angels have already found their way onto the disabled list. Dodger ace Kevin
Brown had to leave a weekend start with some elbow trouble and other starting
pitchers have also been pulled early in games due to injury. The long 162 game
season and the frequency with which injuries occur, even those which require
missing just a couple of games, suggest that the teams with the best depth,
especially pitching depth, are the teams most likely to make it to the
Here’s a preview of four series to be played this
Giants at Astros: This is an attractive early season
series between a pair of teams that figure to be solid contenders for the
playoffs. Despite leaving last Sunday’s game with a pulled hamstring muscle,
San Francisco’s Barry Bonds should be healthy and play in this series and he
enjoyed great success in this ballpark where he clubbed his record tying 70th
homerun last October.
Houston has the starting pitching edge but the Giants may
have the better bullpen especially with setup man Felix Rodriguez and closer
Robb Nen. Livan Hernandez has been a very pleasant surprise in his first few
starts for the Giants and the overall pitching numbers have been solid for San
Francisco. Neither team has enough of a decided advantage to recommend backing
as a ÂÃ‚Âfavorite. Take Underdog.
Rockies at D’backs: Colorado was swept at home in
a four game series for the first time ever last weekend by Arizona ”” including
the first wins this season by Arizona when other than Randy Johnson or Curt
Schilling started. Colorado’s normally potent offense struggled in their first
home series of the season, averaging under five runs per game and scoring more
than five runs just once. The Rockies have historically performed poorly on the
road and until they break out of their hitting slump may represent a risky play
away from Coors Field, even as solid underdogs. Arizona will be too high priced
to back with Schilling or Johnson but may be played when any other pitcher
starts in this series. The UNDER is also worth playing if no lower than 9Â½
Indians at Twins: After splitting their first two
games of the season Cleveland has reeled off 10 straight wins heading into their
midweek series in Chicago. Despite losing the bats of Roberto Alomar and Juan
Gonzalez the Indians have scored five runs or more in all but one game ”” and
they even won that game in which they scored just three times. Bartolo Colon and
C C Sabathia have gotten off to solid starts as the top two starters in the
rotation. Cleveland won all four games against the Twins at home last week and
if Minnesota hopes to challenge in the AL Central a better performance is needed
here. Brad Radke and Eric Milton pitched better in their starts over this past
weekend as the Twins recovered to sweep winless Detroit. Minnesota is the play
in this series but only when made the underdog. The OVER is also preferred when
the posted total is 10 or less.