AL Bludgeons NL!
AMERICAN LEAGUE ENJOYS FANTASTIC WEEKEND
IN ONE-SIDED INTERLEAGUE ACTION
It was only one weekend of a two-week stretch. But, the early returns are suggesting that the National League may not be catching up to the American League after all!
Despite making progress last year, and playing competitive ball in the 2011 appetizer a few weeks ago, not a single National League team was able to sweep a series over the past weekend, even though they were the hosts in more than half of the 14 matchups. Only a handful of teams were even able to win their series in the Senior Circuit. For the Americans, it was flashes of dominance at various sites, and whole lot of wins.
Let's run through the results to get a sense of what might be ahead tonight, this week, and through the rest of Interleague play in 2011. Note that the Sunday Night game between the Yankees and Cubs was excluded because of publication deadlines. That matchup was knotted at one win apiece heading into the nationally televised rubber game.
AMERICAN LEAGUE SWEEPS
Tampa Bay beat Florida 3-0
Minnesota beat San Diego 3-0
Cleveland beat Pittsburgh 3-0
Oakland beat San Francisco 3-0
You can't say it's a surprise that Tampa Bay swept Florida. The Rays were a playoff team last year, and are a contender once again the year. Florida has been the worst team in baseball in the month of June…and, in fact, is having one of the worst months any team has ever had in any year…EVER! Today is June 20th and Florida only has one win this month!
So, the Rays over the Marlins is just 'taking care of business' for a good team against a bad one.
Minnesota's sweep is more important because they had been struggling so long this year. They've turned things around the past two weeks…and ran the table as small to medium favorites rather than exorbitant ones. Be sure you keep the Twinkies on your radar as a value team until they give you a reason to change your mind.
In fairness though, San Diego is a struggling team this year too. It's not the end of the world from the NL's perspective that the Marlins and Padres got swept. Last year Houston and Pittsburgh were dominated, but the rest of the NL held its own. We can't say that's what happened over the weekend.
Pittsburgh in fact came out and laid a big egg! They had been playing fairly well (for them), while Cleveland had been struggling ever since a big TV win over Boston a few weeks ago (right after sweeping Cincinnati in IL play). Neither offense had a big weekend. Cleveland fired their hitting coach before Sunday's game. Pittsburgh was worse offensively than a team that had to fire it's hitting coach because they had stopped scoring!
Oakland sweeping San Francisco? HUGE! Oakland had been in very poor form in recent weeks. San Francisco is the defending National League and World Champion. These teams met a few weeks ago and the Giants swept at home. Big turnaround. And, a big sign in our view that the AL will be in position to do some damage this year…particularly when combined with the next hunk of teams.
The four series sweeps put the AL at 12-0 as we work our way through the slate.
OTHER AMERICAN LEAGUE WINS
Toronto beat Cincinnati 2-1
LA Angels beat the NY Mets 2-1
Texas beat Atlanta 2-1
Chicago White Sox beat Arizona 2-1
Boston beat Milwaukee 2-1
Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1
Those first FOUR are MONSTERS in our opinion because we're talking about ROAD teams winning two of three when the betting markets weren't expecting anything like that. Cincinnati was a playoff team last year in the NL. Atlanta is supposed to be one this year. The Mets aren't contenders, but the Angels had been in a slump in recent days. Arizona had been very hot in recent weeks, and has the kind of ballpark that AL teams might have trouble adjusting to. For the Rays, Angels, Rangers, and Chisox to go 8-4 on the road is a pretty strong red flag indicator for AL dominance right now. We're generally talking about pick-em or small dog scenarios for those dozen matchups. Great performance in a litmus test.
Boston over Milwaukee was expected. In fact, Boston was a pricey favorite in their loss, so backing the AL team in that series didn't end up showing much of a profit. Though, we should point out that the scoreboard favorite the Bosox in dominant fashion. They outscored the Brew Crew 25-11 over the three games. And, that's with the back of the Boston rotation facing some quality arms on Milwaukee.
Seattle over Philadelphia was NOT expected, particularly with Cole Hamels laying about -150 in the rubber game on Sunday. That means the three first place teams in the NL went 2-7. The AL West by itself went 9-3 against a strong NL East slate and the Giants. Amazing.
The six AL teams in this section go 12-6, bringing our running tally to 24-6 so far.
NATIONAL LEAGUE SWEEPS
So, the empty spot here may not be as bleak as it seems. There weren't any NL powers at home against AL patsies. Maybe Philadelphia would sweep the Royals given the chance. San Francisco did sweep Oakland at home a couple of weeks ago even if they stunk up the joint this weekend. It's not the end of the world. But, it is a bad sign!
NATIONAL LEAGUE WINS
Washington beat Baltimore 2-1
St. Louis beat Kansas City 2-1
Colorado beat Detroit 2-1
Even when there's good news, there's little to get excited about. Washington was red hot, while Baltimore isn't anything special. Washington held serve at home for the most part.
St. Louis hosting Kansas City presented the single best series heading into the weekend for NL dominance. The Cardinals lost out of the gate and had to battle all weekend just to win the rivalry. Against a bad team! Then things got worse when Albert Pujols suffered an injury. Tough spell all the way around for the Cards of late, even if they did take two of three here.
Colorado was playing at home at altitude, which gives them a massive home field edge against AL teams. They've exploited that ever since Interleague play started. The Rockies are one of the few teams in recent years to post a decent record against the AL. Hey, Detroit's a good team and a series win should be celebrated. It's just not something the National League as a whole can be proud of. Colorado did what they usually do. Nobody else impressed.
The AL was 24-6 coming into this group. They go 3-6 here to bring the weekend tally to 27-12 heading and with the Yankees' win over the Cubs last night the record rests on 28-12.
We're not saying now that we're going to blast away on the AL team in every game tonight and through the week. But, we will certainly consider shading our action in that direction if Vegas oddsmakers don't make an adjustment. We'll certainly be watching that closely in games tonight like NY Yankees/Cincinnati (on ESPN), Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay/Milwaukee, Detroit/LA Dodgers, and Toronto/Atlanta. We'll also be interested to see the openers in series that start Tuesday…like Seattle/Washington, Oakland/NY Mets, and Minnesota/San Francisco.
Our top plays are available every day a few hours before first pitch. We'll definitely be stepping out TONIGHT in a big way. Grab your credit card and make a few clicks. If you have any questions about our program, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about early bird football rates when you call. The earlier you sign up for football the more you save!
Back tomorrow with more baseball. The AL beat the NL like a drum this past weekend. JIM HURLEY BEATS VEGAS LIKE A DRUM EVERY DAY!
This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.
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