June 8, 2012
By David Schwab
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This season marks 16th consecutive year that Major League Baseball has incorporated games between the National and American League into the overall schedule which is commonly referred to as Interleague Play.
The first round of games this season featured 14 three-game weekend series from May 18 through May 20. This Friday kicks-off an extended round of Interleague Play that will run from June 8 to June 24.
The following is an overview of some pertinent facts and figures related to Interleague Play as well as a list of this weekend’s games and closer look at its most intriguing matchup to get you ready for all the action.
MLB Interleague Play Overview
The popularity of Interleague play remains high with the average game drawing over 12 percent more fans to the ball parks than a traditional intra league game according to 2011 attendance figures. It allows the MLB to schedule natural geographic rivalries that would never take place unless those teams met in the World Series. It also provides a chance for the fans to see some of the biggest stars from the opposite league play in their home-town park.
For anyone who enjoys wagering on the games, it creates a true challenge handicapping a particular matchup given the unfamiliarity between a team’s starting pitcher and the opposing team’s lineup. The New York Yankees have mastered this feat the best with an overall Interleague Play record of 158-109 through this season’s first round of games, while the Pittsburgh Pirates have the worst overall record at 82-132.
Interleague Play- First Round Recap
Over the years the American League has gotten the best of Interleague Play with a 52.3 winning percentage and so far this season that continues to be the case. The AL compiled a 24-18 record during the first weekend of games which equates to a winning percentage of 57.1.
The Chicago White Sox swept the Chicago Cubs 3-0 in the Crosstown Classic by a combined score of 26-6. Seattle posted the only other sweep of the weekend with a three-game romp over Colorado in which it outscored the Rockies 20-7.
The Baltimore Orioles claimed bragging rights in the Beltway Series by taking two of three from the Washington Nationals and the Rangers remained the toast of Texas with a 2-1 series victory over the Houston Astros.
This Weekend’s Schedule (June 8-10)
Kansas City Royals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Mets vs. New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Baltimore Orioles
Detroit Tigers vs. Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Miami Marlins
Chicago Cubs vs. Minnesota Twins
Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels vs. Colorado Rockies
Oakland Athletics vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers vs. San Francisco Giants
Spotlight Interleague Series
Mets vs. Yankees
All 14 of this weekend’s Interleague series offer some interesting matchups both on the mound and in the field, but the most anticipated one has the Mets paying a visit to Yankee Stadium for a renewal of the Subway Series.
The Yankees have dominated this series with an overall regular-season record of 49-35 and a 4-1 series victory in the 2000 World Series. They got the best of the Mets last season as well; taking four of six with a 2-1 record both at home and on the road. The total stayed ‘under’ in four of those games, but went ‘over’ in two of the three games at Yankee Stadium.
Both teams come into this series in serious contention in their division race. The Mets are a surprising 32-26 on the year and just a game and half in back of Washington in the NL East. This is quite an accomplishment considering they opened the season as 8/1 underdogs to win their division. The Mets are getting it done with a lineup that has a team batting average of .257 and is ranked fourth in the NL in scoring with an average of 4.40 runs per game. They have gotten the most out a starting rotation that has some holes and a bullpen that has had its fair share of breakdowns. Overall, their 4.19 team ERA is ranked 12th in the NL. The Mets are 5-5 in their last 10 games and just under .500 on the road at 13-14.
The Yankees opened the season as -150 favorites to win the AL East, but a slow start dug an early hole from which they are just starting to climb out of. They have won five of their last seven games to close the gap with Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the division to just half a game. The Yankees are 31-25 overall and 16-12 at home after taking two of three from the Rays earlier this week. The return of Andy Pettitte has added a spark to the starting rotation with a 3-2 record and 2.78 ERA in five starts, but the Bronx Bombers continue to earn their paychecks with their bats. While they are ranked seventh in the AL in pitching with a 3.96 team ERA, the Yankees remain near the top of the league in hitting with a team batting average of .263 and an average of 4.70 runs per game.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday, June 8
Johan Santana (3-2, 2.38 ERA) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (4-6, 3.82 ERA)
Fresh off throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history, Santana will look to add another victory to his overall record of 5-3 against the Yankees. Kuroda is just 1-5 lifetime against the Mets with a 5.75 ERA.
Saturday, June 9
Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (5-5, 4.96 ERA)
Gee has not given-up more than three earned runs in his last four starts. Hughes threw a complete game against Detroit his last time out and has not lost since May 17. He is 1-1 against the Mets with an ERA of 4.20.
Sunday, June 10
Jon Niese (4-2, 4.11 ERA) vs. Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.78 ERA)
Last Sunday, Niese posted 10 strike outs while holding St. Louis scoreless for six innings. Pettitte held the Rays scoreless over 7 1/3 innings in his last start while also fanning 10. He is 7-4 lifetime against the Mets with a 3.56 ERA.
The Mets are 2-5 in their last seven Interleague games and 2-6 in their last eight games against the AL East. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of their last eight Interleague games on the road.
The Yankees are 16-6 in their last 22 Interleague games as favorites and 8-3 in their last 11 Interleague games overall.
Head-to-head, the Yankees have a slight 6-4 edge in the last 10 meetings and are 4-2 in the last six games at Yankee Stadium. The total has stayed ‘under’ in seven of the last nine games between the two.
Upcoming Series of Interest
Over the next two weeks there will a number of intriguing matchups on the schedule, but the following is a brief listing of a few that classify as must-see TV given the natural rivalry they create.
Los Angeles Angels vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (June 11- June 13)
Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds (June 12-June 14)
Kansas City Royals vs. St. Louis Cardinals (June 15-17)
Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox (June18- June 20)
New York Yankees vs. New York Mets (June 22-June 24)
Washington Nationals vs. Baltimore Orioles (June 22-June 24)