The days are getting longer as the temperatures continue to rise and the smell of barbeques fill backyards from coast to coast.
Another thing beginning today from coast to coast is the official start of Major League Baseball’s interleague play that will go on for the next two weeks.
MLB’s adoption of implementing interleague play into the regular season has been by far the greatest decision. Now we just need to do away with the league winner of the All-Star game earning home-field advantage in the World Series and baseball will be back to being America’s pastime.
A few teams have already participated in interleague play earlier this season, but today marks a stretch where every team – aside from a couple National League teams – will face off against a team from the other league. Beginning next year with the move of the Houston Astros to the American League West, no one team will play their own league as baseball will finally have a evenly split leagues—15 teams in each league.
Looking at the weekend’s lineup, there are some great matchups – especially in the east – and some pretty awful ones.
New York Mets @ New York Yankees:
The subway series always draws attention right away because it is New York’s two baseball teams and there is no better way to start off interleague play than with these two squads. Both are in third-place and within striking distance of overtaking first depending on this weekend’s series outcome. Johan Santana will start for the Mets in game one, making his first appearance since his no-hitter one week ago. The old-man, Andy Pettitte, will close out the series for the Yankees. Yankees win 2 of 3.
Tampa Bay Rays @ Miami Marlins:
Once a doormat of the AL East upon joining the league, Tampa Bay is now competing for the division title on a yearly basis. They’ll take on their in-state rival, the Miami Marlins, who have struggled in the early part of June. There will be no David Price in this series for Tampa Bay and the Marlins will start their best duo in Carlos Zambrano and Anibal Sanchez. Marlins win 2 of 3.
Chicago Cubs @ Minnesota Twins:
This is the series of two of the worst teams going against each other. The Twins are 9-17 at home while the Cubs are a miserable 7-23 on the road. Even with the Twins throwing a pretty good lineup at the Cubs this weekend, I’m going to take a gamble and say Cubs win Saturday and Sunday with the DH being a significant boost. Cubs win 2 of 3 on road.
Detroit Tigers @ Cincinnati Reds:
The surprise of both leagues Central’s. The first-place Reds enter the weekend with a two-game lead over the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates. Never thought you’d hear that in early June! The Tigers entered 2012 as the clear AL favorites with the addition of Prince Fielder joining Miguel Cabrera in the lineup and fireball pitcher Justin Verlander leading the rotation. But the Tigers are struggling, finding themselves five-games under .500. The Great American Ballpark is a hitters or homerun park. Both Fielder and Cabrera combine for six homeruns as the Tigers sweep.
Los Angeles Angels @ Colorado Rockies:
Even with the addition of Albert Pujols, the Angels are not having the success the expert’s thought they’d have. Pitching is going to be key in this series. The Angels can sweep if they keep the ball down and don’t let the Rockies crush home runs out of their own park. Since Coors Field is another great hitters park, expect Pujols to go deep twice with eight-RBIs. Angels take 2 of 3.
Texas Rangers @ San Francisco Giants:
This is the first time these squads will face off since their World Series encounter in 2010. Since then, the Rangers have gotten better, stronger and seem capable of making a third straight appearance in the Fall Classic. The Giants didn’t even make the playoffs after their championship season and don’t look like they will this year either with the Los Angeles Dodgers taking care of business against every opponent. On top of that, franchise starter Tim Lincecum has been a non-factor in the rotation. Thank goodness for Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain and Barry Zito, who all have ERA’s under 3.00. The Giants have Vogelsong, Zito and Lincecum against the weaker rotation of Texas. Giants complete the weekend sweep.
Follow on Twitter @midwaymadness