The sports world was saddened early last week with the passing of legendary sportscaster Jack Buck. His loss was felt especially in St. Louis where he broadcast Cardinal baseball games for nearly 50 years.
But the sports world was both saddened and shocked just a few days later with the passing of Cardinal right handed pitcher Darryl Kile at the age of 33.
Kile was a solid major league pitcher with more than a decade of experience with Houston, Colorado and St. Louis. He was a dependable and quality starter who never missed a starting assignment during his career.
Although Kile may not have been in the class of a Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux or Curt Schilling he was just below that grade.
His leadership will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Cardinals and especially to the Kile family.
Interleague baseball winds down with a final series this weekend following a midweek stretch of games within each league. Oakland has won 14 of 15 interleague games, the only AL team with double digit wins against the NL. Atlanta, Montreal and Los Angeles have won at least 10 games during interleague play with the Braves leading at 12-3.
All games this weekend will be played in one league’s stadiums. In NL parks, the host teams won 67 of 126 games, or just over 53 percent. The UNDER was 75-41-9 with one rainout. The average total runs scored in NL parks was 8.17, more than a run less than the 9.45 runs in games played at AL stadiums.
The AL hosts have won exactly half of the 84 games played against the NL. The OVER is 43-38-2 with one game rain shortened with no total result.
Keep an eye on reports out of Boston. There may be some controversy growing around the delayed return of ailing slugger Manny Ramirez. The Boston outfielder opted to remain at Triple-A Pawtucket for an extended rehab assignment. His bat might have made the difference in a couple of those one run losses to the Dodgers.
Minnesota has opened up a six game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central while the AL West remains very tight. Seattle led Anaheim by two games with Oakland just one game further back.
Atlanta is five and a half games ahead over pesky Montreal with Florida a game behind the Expos and the Mets yet another game back.
St. Louis is two and a half games clear of Cincinnati in the NL Central while the Dodgers have edged past Arizona by a game in the NL West.
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks figure to be joined by San Francisco in a three team race in the NL West.
Here’s a look at four of what are quickly becoming traditional annual rivalries involving a pair of teams that share the same territory.
Cubs at ChiSox: The Cubs took two of three at Wrigley in a surprisingly high scoring series that saw all three games go OVER the total. This series should see lower scoring games. The Cubs strength remains a solid starting rotation anchored by Jon Lieber and Kerry Wood and strong efforts from Matt Clement and rookie Mark Prior.
The Sox have gotten an All Star season from lefty Mark Buehrle and young John Garland has pitched better in recent weeks. Any can be played as an Underdog while any starter not amongst these six is a "go against," especially the Cubs’ Jason Bere and both Gary Glover and Danny Wright of the Sox. Todd Ritchie has also failed to deliver for the Pale Hose. Look to play UNDER if at least 9 or higher unless Glover, Wright or Ritchie starts for the Sox. Interestingly, the OVER is 10-5 in Wood’s starts.
Mets at Yanks: The presence of the DH means that neither Roger Clemens nor Shawn Estes will have to hit. The Mets’ starting rotation has been extremely balanced and free of injury. Pedro Astacio and Al Leiter have put up the best numbers on the staff and both are worth playing as underdogs in this series. The Yankees have won 13 of Mike Mussina’s 16 starts but they’ve been pretty average for all other starters. If favored by less than —140, Mussina is worth a play if not facing Leiter or Astacio.
The series may also be as low scoring as the first was. The Mets outscored the Yankees 13-6 with one game going extra innings. All three games went UNDER the total. All 10 of Ted Lilly’s starts entering this week have gone UNDER the total.
Giants at A’s: In winning 14 of 15 interleague games Oakland’s only loss came to the Giants in a game in which neither starter, Oakland rookie Aaron Harang or San Francisco’s Russ Ortiz, pitched well. Neither made it out of the fifth inning in a game the Giants won 6-2. All three games went UNDER the total and that should again be the way to look in the rematch.
Barry Zito has been solid all season for Oakland, but both Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder are showing their best form. Only Cory Lidle is not performing up to last year’s form and would be the one Oakland pitcher to play against, especially if he’s favored. Giants right-hander Jason Schmidt will be attractive as an underdog as he’s displaying his best form of the season. The OVER looks look with Lidle. The UNDER is 9-3 in Mulder’s starts. If Livan Hernandez starts for the Giants, the game can be played OVER if not opposing one of Oakland’s "Big Three."
Dodgers at Angels: Los Angeles took two of three from the Angels two weeks ago. The Dodgers outscored Anaheim 19-17 as all three games went OVER the total. The lines in those games were either 7Â½ or 8 and we should see a slight adjustment in this series. The UNDER should be the play. In starts by Odalis Perez and Andy Ashby, the Dodgers have gone UNDER the total in 22 of 30 games, with one push. They can also be played as favorites if no higher than —120.
Ramon Ortiz is Anaheim’s most effective starter, displaying excellent control and averaging more than seven innings per start. A matchup of Ortiz against either Perez or Ashby can be played UNDER as low as 7Â½. Jarrod Washburn is the other Anaheim hurler who can be played if favored by no more than —130 against other than Perez or Ashby. The Dodgers may be played as underdogs against Angels starters Aaron Sele, Scott Schoeneweis or Kevin Appier.