Three American League teams are already at least 10 games out of their Division lead after having played just about 30 games. Two of these teams are in the AL East ”” Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Manager Buck Martinez may well be the next casualty among field generals. The Jays were expected play .500 ball and possibly contend for the Wild Card, but now have a lot of ground to make up.
Boston and Baltimore are the surprise teams in the East. Boston began the week with the best record in baseball, while the Orioles were a game over .500. The Central shapes up as a three team race among Minnesota, Chicago and the Cleveland Indians. Seattle has opened a gap of five games over Oakland in the West.
The NL East has the New York Mets on top but with only a 2Â½-game lead over fourth place Atlanta. The Central has become mediocre. The West is shaping up as the best division in baseball with only Colorado below .500.
Here’s a look at several series this weekend.
Cards at Reds: Eleven different hurlers have started this season for the Cards, including four rookies. The offense has been below average for the most part, perhaps feeling some pressure. St. Louis is worth backing as an underdog throughout the series.
The one exception would be when Elmer Dessens starts for the Reds. He’s had a solid start to the season with an ERA below 2.00 but has been victimized by poor run support. St. Louis can be played as a favorite if Matt Morris gets a start but the price should be no more than minus 140. The UNDER is preferred in two games.
Padres at Braves: Atlanta lefty Tom Glavine has been spectacular thus far while rookie Damien Moss has put up solid numbers with an ERA under 3.00 and allowing barely one baserunner per inning. Greg Maddux finally looked sharp in his last start at St. Louis.
San Diego has also received solid pitching with Brian Lawrence, Kevin Jarvis, Bob Jones and even Brett Tomko putting up strong numbers. The first way to look in this series is the UNDER. San Diego is worth playing at a price of at least plus 150 when any of those four pitchers starts, except against Glavine.
Yanks at Twins: An initial look at the performance of the starting pitchers points to the OVER throughout the series but the Yankees have been very inconsistent at the plate. Roger Clemens and David Wells have each posted 6-1 OVER record in their starts. But the UNDER is 15-3 with everyone else.
Both Mike Mussina and Orlando Hernandez have not been as sharp lately. Minnesota’s offense has been underrated and has performed very well at home. The preference is for the OVER. Minnesota will be an attractive side play in starts by Eric Milton and Matt Kinney as underdogs.
Red Sox at M’s: The Red Sox have gotten outstanding pitching. Darren Oliver is the only starter who has allowed more hits than innings pitched. Pedro Martinez is back in form and Derek Lowe has been a major early season surprise.
Seattle has won more with offense than with the starting pitching, although the bullpen is once again a strength. The starters have struggled but ace Freddy Garcia appears to be rounding into form. The Red Sox have won 12 of 14 road games entering the week while Seattle is just 8-7 at home. The Red Sox are recommended for play as Underdogs. Play the UNDER if eight or more runs.