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MLB Week in Review + Free Series Pick

by Robert Ferringo - 6/18/2006

We are entering the Dog Days, my friend. Summer is the time to attend a festival with half-naked hippy chicks, grill out with your crazy aunt and uncle, and show off that beer gut while going bare-chested by the pool - all in one weekend. It's the season of humidity and hurricanes, beaches and barbeques, and it's a great time to be alive.

But let's not lose focus. We need to shift our sports-loving gaze away from corrupt Uruguay officials and Togo temper-tantrums and back to our National Pastime. Summer is also the time of walk-offs and winning streaks, designated hitters and doubleheaders. There's work to be done, and money to be made. So put down the beach towel and pick up the boxscores, we currently have a number of compelling storylines from sea to shining sea.

The American League East has become baseball's best division. Baltimore took two of three from the National League's best team. When healthy, Tampa Bay has one of MLB's best young rosters. New York and Boston are reprising their Paris Hilton vs. Nicole Richie blood feud, while Toronto plays the role of Lindsay Lohan. The burning question is whether the big-breasted Blue Jays will finally rip off their tops and enter the catfight or sit at the bar swilling Uncertainty Martinis?

In the NL West we have a miasma of mediocrity. All five clubs are within a game of .500 and just two games separate first-place from last. Barry Bonds continues his trail towards tainted milestones and possible perjury charges. Los Angeles has been riding the wave of the former Red Sox and Colorado is winning with small ball. Wacky stuff in the Wild West.

Here's a quick look at the week that was in MLB:

NL Team of the Week

Florida Marlins Florida has been an ATM over the past three weeks, riding an 18-6 rush and has posted an eight-game winning streak. And what was more surprising: last week's three-game sweep of Atlanta or the fact that the Fish were favored in two of those games? As recently as May the Marlins were floundering at 11-31 as one of the league's worst clubs. But young players like Dan Uggla are finding a grove and the Fish are starting to pay ($984 last week alone).

AL Team of the Week

Oakland Athletics The weather is heating up, so its time for the A's to start scorching. Oaktown has won ten straight and are now a half-game up on Texas as top team in the West. The A's have been in the money in 15 of their last 17 outings, including a big-money sweep of the Yankees June 11th that net a $507 profit. Unfortunately, oddsmakers have taken notice. Oakland has been a favorite in five of its last six.

NL Player of the Week

(Tie) Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes - The New York Mets have slugged their way to a 9.5-game lead in the East, averaging nearly eight runs a game in the last eight days. A big reason has been the textbook play of their leadoff and cleanup hitters. Reyes has reached base in 16 of his last 29 plate appearances, stolen three bases and scored nine runs. Delgado has hit .500 and posted a 1.374 OPS during that span, adding eight RBI and six runs.

AL Player of the Week

Francisco Liriano - Since his debut in Minnesota's starting rotation in mid-May, the right-handed Liriano has been stunning. He finished last week 2-0, surrendering just two earned runs in 14 innings. He struck out 17 and posted a WHIP of just 0.64. Behind their devastating one-two pitching punch of Johan Santana and Liriano, the Twins have clawed their way back into the wild card hunt with a seven-game winning streak.

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Upcoming Weekend Series to Watch:
Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox, June 23-25

Probable Pitching Match-ups:
Friday - Taylor Buchholz vs. Jose Contreras
Saturday - Andy Pettite vs. Jon Garland
Sunday - Roy Oswalt vs. Javier Vasquez

This interleague series is a rematch of last year's Fall Classic. The White Sox handled the Astros in October, and should do the same this June. Chicago is exceptional at home while Houston is dreadful on the road. The question will be pricing.

Since opening the season by dropping two of three to Cleveland, the White Sox have gone 9-1-1 in home series. Their 24 home victories are tied for the best in MLB. Interestingly enough, the value on the Sox has improved from around -150 or -160 last month to -120 or -130 recently.

The Astros have been playing better ball as they await the return of Roger Clemens. They're on a 9-3 surge and swept the putrid Cubs last week in a trip to Chicago. However, discounting that series, Houston is a feeble 4-13 in its previous six road trips.

Houston also has the fourth-worst road offense in the league, hitting just .258 and managing a paltry 4.6 runs per game. Conversely, the White Sox pitching has given up the second-fewest runs while at home in the Majors.

Series Prediction: Chicago wins 2-1.

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of Doc's MLB picks service or Valley Sports. Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at robert@docsports.com.

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