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Sunday Night Preview

   by ASA - 06/13/2008

The much maligned Bud Selig has attracted many doubters in his 16 year reign as MLB Commissioner. One idea that Selig incorporated that nearly everyone agrees is a huge success was the implementation of Interleague Play. This weekend we enter “round 2â€쳌 of Interleague play and this one began on June 13th and will last through June 29th.

One of the main attractions of Interleague play are the natural regional rivalries that only existed in the dreams of baseball fans across the country before Selig kicked started this idea into reality in 1997. Met vs. Yankees. Cardinals vs. Royals. Twins vs. Brewers. Astros vs. Rangers. Cubs vs. White Sox. Reds vs. Indians. A’s vs. Giants. The list of heated Interleague rivalries goes on and on. The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball prime time game does not have that label, however it should still be a good one.

The Atlanta Braves make their first visit to Anaheim to face the L.A. Angels. In a very similar situation to last Sunday’s prime time match up between the Cubs and Dodgers, we have one team that is hitting on all cylinders entering this weekend and one team that is struggling to get back on track. The Angels have won 9 of their last 11 games entering this series which opened on Friday. Taking that back even further, they have won 17 of their last 24 games dating back to mid-May. The Braves, on the other hand, have lost six consecutive games entering Friday and have been swept in three of their last four series. L.A. has been one of the top money makers this season with a profit of +$1,124 based on $100 per game as of Friday. Atlanta sits in the bottom third of the league at -$952. The number one reason the Braves have been a money eater this year? They have been horrendous on the road. This team is just 7-24 away from home in 2008. Every other team in the Majors has at least 10 road wins this season.

The pitching match up in this game is definitely not a marquis one, but it is an interesting one. Jorge Campillo has found a home and a spot in the rotation Atlanta. In his three previous seasons in the Majors, all with Seattle, Campillo pitched a total of 17.2 innings and started only one game. His career ERA coming into the 2008 season was above 7.00. This year he’s started five games for the Braves and has allowed just 11 runs in 46 innings (2.15 ERA). Four of his five starts this season have come at home. However, his road ERA is a miniscule 0.47 although he’s only pitched a total of 19 innings away from home this season. Campillo would have had a full six days of rest for this one as his last start was on June 8th. However, Bobby Cox opted to bring him out of the bullpen on Thursday, June 12 vs. Chicago. It shouldn’t affect him here as he only threw one pitch. Campillo has started to falter a bit this month however. His ERA in his three appearances in June is 6.52. He has allowed 17 base runners in his 9.2 innings pitched this month.

Left-hander Joe Saunders has been a bit of a surprise for the Angels this season. He has been somewhat of a “spotâ€쳌 starter for L.A. the last three seasons and his ERA has never dipped below 4.44. This season, however, he is already 9-3 and his ERA is only 3.32. Saunders has allowed his opponents an on base percentage of only .289 which is outstanding. The Braves have hit just .233 as a team vs. left handers on the road so that could be a problem here vs. this veteran south paw. For whatever reason, Saunders has shown a chink in his armor at home. His ERA at Angel Stadium is 4.70 this season. He has allowed 19 earned runs in just 22 innings in his last four home starts. He is coming off his worst outing of the season on Monday where he was pounded by Devil Rays in Anaheim. He allowed 8 earned runs and 11 base runners in just 4.2 innings of work.

Finally, if you can’t decide on who to back in this one, you might want to give the “underâ€쳌 a consideration. These teams have the two strongest “underâ€쳌 records MLB this season. Atlanta’s under the total record is 43-21 (67%) while the Angels stand at 39-23 (63%). The average total score in Campillo’s five starts this year is 7.8. The average total score in Saunder’s 13 starts in 2008 is 8.15. Thus, if you’re looking for a lot of action on offense Sunday night, this might not be the game for you. Based on this year’s history, we’re probably looking at a pitchers' duel.

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