MLB: Interleague Revenge on Tap

MLB: Interleague Revenge on Tap

In the early part of the season, the National League was busting its buttons about how their league was gaining on the American League


2008-06-24

In the early part of the season, the National League was busting its buttons about how their league was gaining on the American League, with higher scoring teams, more young talent and of course its snobbish appeal with no designated hitter. On the field results have shown differently however.

It was very easy to drink the N.L. Kool-aid back in mid-May that this was all true, however as we head into the last six days of interleague play, a familiar tune is playing again. Thus far the senior circuit is 68-99, hardly the kind of numbers associated with success. At least two teams, Florida and Houston will have a chance for revenge at home against in-state rivals starting tonight.

Houston had worked its way back into contention in the NL Central, after a slow start and looked like it had the necessary components to compete. However, since May 28, the Astros have plummeted back to earth (or 5th place in this case) with 5-18 record since that day, which included eight-game losing streak. The reasons are varied, a weak starting staff, irresolute lineup and curious decisions by manager Cecil Cooper. Winning two of three at Tampa Bay, makes Houston feel better about itself, but still doesn't hide 3-9 mark against the AL, with only other win coming versus tonight's opponent Texas. "It's definitely a start," reliever Wesley Wright told the Astros' official Web site. "When you're struggling, you have to start somewhere and work your way back to where you want to be. This series was a big one for us because they're one of the better teams in the AL. It's kind of a measuring stick to where we're trying to go and what we need to do to get there."

Texas started the year playing awful baseball with 7-16 record, yet manager Ron Washington didn't give up on his team and continued to demand more effort and preaching the results would come even if his job was becoming more in jeopardy. Since then, the Rangers are 32-22 and arrive in Houston over .500 for the first time since late in the 2006 season.

Texas has split six games at Minute Maid Park the last two years and will bring baseball's best offense, which is scoring 5.6 runs per game. They will face Brian Moeller (3-3, 4.35, 1.373 WHIP), potentially licking their chops, since they are 31-23 (+13 units) facing right-handed starters, scoring six runs per outing. The Rangers are 10-4 in interleague games against RH starters. Houston hitters will see Texas' top pitching prospect Eric Hurley (0-0, 4.91, 1.182 WHIP) for the first time, as he makes third career start. Hurley has a solid three-pitch mix and is doing on the job training for woeful Rangers staff.

Sportsbook.com has Houston as -120 money line home favorites with total Un10. The Astros are 16-6 in interleague games as a favorite of -110 to -150.

Over in South Florida, a pair of surprising second place teams will meet again. Tampa Bay and Florida's style of play reflect the cities in which they play. The Rays are more conservative, relying on pitching and defense to win ballgames. The Marlins are like the nightlife on South Beach, with potent offense and full of surprises on any given night.

Florida lost series at Tampa Bay nine days ago and seeks immediate retribution. The Marlins lead the majors in home runs with 112 and will look to pressure Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine (8-3, 4.92, 1.416 WHIP). He has allowed a bundle of hits (111 in 89.2 innings), yet has helped himself and his team immeasurably with only 16 walks and almost 4-1 K/W ratio. After Sunday's 3-2 loss to Houston, the Rays are 16-5 after scoring two runs or less this season.

Florida counters with Scott Olsen (4-4, 3.51, 1.300 WHIP), who along with his teammates is 28-18 (+13.2 Units) in the first half of the season over the last three seasons. Thou, the lefty Olson was roughed up in last start in Seattle, he's been more consistent in 2008 and has 2.89 ERA at home. Florida is 22-15, +9 units at Dolphin Stadium and is 11-4 after a loss by four runs or more this season.

After opening as a Pick, bettors have preferred Florida, now up to -120 favorite, with total at nine. The total might be going one way in this Sunshine State encounter, with Tampa Bay 10-1 OVER in road games in interleague play and the Marlins 11-1 OVER after batting .240 or worse over a 10-game span this season.

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