No strike, we're guessing

Aug 27, 2002 9:11 AM

We are just days away from the strike deadline imposed by the players and there is no clear indication as to whether a strike will be averted Friday.

The guess here is that an agreement in principle will be reached before that fateful hour.

Arizona has overtaken Atlanta for baseball’s best record. Although its eight game lead over second place Los Angeles is less than half of Atlanta’s lead in the NL East, it looks as though the Diamondbacks will win the NL West.

Minnesota is well ahead in the AL Central. The Yankees begin the week seven ahead of Boston and can all but wrap up the East title with no worse than a split in their two game midweek series at Fenway Park. The real fun is in the AL West where red-hot Oakland begins the week with a two-game lead over both Anaheim and Seattle. Entering Monday the A’s had won 12 in a row.

The AL Wild Card race is equally as exciting with the Angels and Mariners tied and Boston 3½ back.

Let’s take a look at several series that will be played this weekend if a strike is indeed averted.

Cards at Cubs: The Cubs have gotten solid pitching from most of their starters but a terrible bullpen and inconsistent offense have them far below the record their overall talent suggests. St. Louis has been in a recent offensive slump while the Cubs can afford to play loose. Chicago is worth a play in any game as an underdog. The Cards do not really have an ace. At totals of 10 or higher the UNDER is preferred.

Giants at D’backs: Arizona continues to play extremely well, leading the third place Giants by 11½ games starting the week. Both Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson will be heavy favorites and the Giants are worth backing at least to split against duo. The OVER is also worth playing at 9 or less.

Twins at A’s: Minnesota’s starting pitching does not match up to the Athletics but the Twins do have the best home record in the AL. Given the strong home mark, and the fact that they should be playing loosely, the Twins can be backed as underdogs throughout this series. The better play might be UNDER. Totals figure to be at least 8½ or perhaps 9.

Orioles at Angels: Baltimore can only play spoiler, but has an incentive for a strong September to achieve a .500 record. Quietly, manager Mike Hargrove has done a fine job. Anaheim will be favored throughout this series. Anaheim is worth playing at —140 or less. The OVER is also worth a look at 10 or less when Scott Erickson starts for Baltimore.