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This Week in Baseball: The Dog Days of Summer

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Welcome to June baseball fans!  We are in the in the heart of the season and we’ll be at the All-Star break before you know it.  As the dog days of summer are settling in, the competition has never been hotter.  Let’s take a look at this week (9) in baseball.  

There are not many inter-league match ups that make it to my top picks but this series is one to watch and could even be a World Series preview.  No one is surprised that the New York Mets are having an awesome season.  The re-signing of Yoenis Cespedes, the introduction of Neil Walker (2B) and Asdrubal Cabrera (SS), in addition to continued stellar pitching is keeping them going strong only .5 game behind the Washington Nationals.

Unlike the Mets the Chicago White Sox did not make it to the play offs last season; in fact they have not even been close for the past few years.  They are definitely one of the breakout teams of the season that are shocking critics.  If the White Sox continue on this track, they could be contenders for the American League Championship.

This week the White Sox travel to Citi Field to play the Mets.  The first game was earlier today and decided by 1 run, one home run by Neil Walker that turned out to be the game winner.  The match up for Tuesday (Matt Latos vs Steven Matz) will most likely be a similar finish.  Wednesday’s game will be an interesting one.  Jacob DeGrom has been a force to recon with in the Mets rotation but only has 3 wins.  I know that a pitcher’s success isn’t based on wins, it’s based on ERA and Degrom has a good one, 2.81, but it seems as if the team doesn’t hit as well when he pitches.  The White Sox starter, Miguel Gonzalez will be making his 6th start this season and had yet to get a win so he is due for a win.

The other early week series to watch is the Boston Red Sox vs the Baltimore Orioles.  The AL East is steeped with rivalry and this match up is filled with it.  Bench clearing brawls in 2011 and 2014 have kept the fire between the teams burning and this season could see another since both teams have been going back and forth for first place in the division.  

Todays game was an early Memorial Day start at Camden Yards.  Play was evenly matched and game was tied up until the 8th inning when the Red Sox blew it open with 4 runs.  That was game, 7-2 Red Sox.  On Tuesday Eduardo Rodriguez is getting his first major league start for the Red Sox.  Kevin Gausman will take the mound for the Orioles.  What Gausman lacks in wins he makes up for in ERA, with a respectable 3.24.  But don’t count out the rookie Rodriguez will be dishing out pitches that have not been seen on an MLB level that could take the Orioles by surprise.  

Between the the next 2 games Wednesday’s is by far the most interesting.  The pitchers (Joe Kelly, Red Sox and Mike Wright, Orioles) are evenly matched, each with only 2 wins and an ERA over 5.  Based on those numbers alone, this game doesn’t appear it will be won on the mound so it should be fun to watch.  

Starting Friday another AL divisional match up  will take center stage; the Seattle Mariners vs the Texas Rangers.  If you asked me in the beginning of the season if the Mariners would be trading the number one spot in the AL West back and forth with the Rangers, I would have said no way.  The Mariners have been out of the playoff picture for so long there was no reason to believe that they would be there anytime soon, but with the new management they have in place they could do just that.  

Although every game will be intense, the main game I’m interested in is Friday night.  The first game of the series will be Rangers ace Yu Darvish’s 2nd start since returning to the game from Tommy John Surgery.  His first outing was against the Pittsburgh Pirates and he seemed to be unchanged by the surgery pitching 5 innings with 1 run and 7 strike outs.  I would only expect more of the same from Darvish in his 2nd start.

The NL series of the weekend is the San Francisco Giants vs the St Louis Cardinals.  Both these teams are seen as playoff contenders each year and have met each other in the divisional championship in 2012 and 2014.  Both those times the Giants won and both times they went on to win the World Series.  

So far this season is favoring the Giants as well.  Right now they are on top of the NL West with a 32 wins.  The only team that poses to be a threat to their dominance is the Los Angeles Dodgers unless the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, or San Diego Padres go on a serious win streak.  In 2015 the Cardinals learned that they are no longer king of the NL Central.  With Joe Maddon at the helm of the Chicago Cubs and a re-energized Pittsburgh Pirates team, they will only have to work that much harder in order to make it to the big dance.  There is nothing a good change in power to keep things interesting.  

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