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Monday, June 26

   by Larry Ness - 06/26/2006

The AL continued its dominance of the NL this year in interleague play, going 26-14 Friday through Sunday, upping its record to 103-64 (.617) on the season. The Red Sox lead the way with a 10-1 IL mark, followed by the 10-2 Mariners, Tigers, Twins and White Sox.

One might notice that the Tigers, Twins and White Sox all play in the AL Central, giving that division a MLB-best 41-19 (.683) record in IL play. Conversely, the NL Central (at 21-42 .333), owns the worst record of any division.

My free play for Monday is on the Fla Marlins over the TB Devil Rays at 7:05 ET. I capped the week with a Las Vegas Insider win Sunday (6-0 with KC) and open the final week of June with another exclusive play tonight. My near two-month run (since 5/1) with Las Vegas Insiders has reached 18-7 or 72% winners! Don't miss it

The Diamondbacks became the last team to win an IL game this year, when they beat the Angels 9-7 on Sunday. The D'backs and Pirates both stand at 1-8 in IL play with the Braves (2-7), Cubs (3-9) and Phillies (3-8) not that far behind. Teams struggling in the AL are the Angels, Blue Jays and Indians (all 4-8). The Colorado Rockies (7-2) are the only NL team doing well, as the Mets (5-4) are the only other NL team above .500!

The White Sox came all the way back from a 9-1 seventh-inning deficit (Iguchi hit a three-run HR in the 8th and a grand slam in the 9th!) but eventually lost 10-9 (in 13 innings) to the Astros, ending MLB's longest active winning streak at nine games. The Red Sox (rained out yesterday), with eight straight wins, now lead the way. Four-game win streaks are owned by the Dodgers and Twins.

The Pirates lost their 11th straight game on Sunday (longest active losing streak) to the Dodgers (7-4), giving Pittsburgh its longest losing streak since 1955 (more on the Pirates tomorrow, as they don't play on Monday). The Cardinals, the winningest team in MLB the last two seasons with 205 victories, owns the second-longest active losing streak (six consecutive losses).

The Tigers continue to own MLB's best record (51-25), winning 13 of their last 15 games. The White Sox are 1 1/2-games back of the Tigers in the AL Central with MLB's second-best mark (49-26). The Twins have won 14 of 16 but unfortunately also play in the AL Central, leaving them 11 games back of the Tigers and 9 1/2 games behind the White Sox.

The Mets own the NL's best record (47-28) after taking two of three in Toronto. While New York's nine-game road winning streak ended on Saturday, the Mets did win their fifth consecutive road series, giving them a 25-13 road mark this year (behind only Detroit's 28-11 road record). However, while the Tigers are battling the White Sox in their division, it's clear sailing for the Mets in the NL East (lead by 11 1/2 games!), the lone division in MLB with just one winning team.

Monday's games

There are just seven games on today's MLB schedule, including a 1:00 ET start with the Phillies and Red Sox making up yesterday's rain out. ESPN2 carries the Braves/Yankees game at 7:05 ET, as Tim Hudson takes on Randy Johnson. While Hudson and Johnson are major pitching names, neither is doing very well this year. Hudson is 6-6 with 4.05 ERA for the Braves (who have lost 21 of 26) and Johnson is 8-6 with an ERA of 5.21 for the Yanks.

Two rookies square off in Florida tonight and it's a game worth following. James Shields of the Devil Rays made his MLB debut on May 31. He was not sharp in that game (allowed five ERs in five innings), getting a no decision in a 6-5 loss to the Orioles. However, in his four starts since, he's allowed a total of just five ERs (25 innings), for an ERA of 1.80. He'll take a four-game winning streak into tonight's game against the Marlins.

Pitching for the Marlins will be 6-foot-7 rookie, Josh Johnson. Johnson began the season in the bullpen and didn't make his first ML start until May 4. He'll be making his 10th start tonight and in his previous nine, has allowed a total of just 10 ERs. That figures to an ERA of 1.63! He's allowed one ER or less in six of his nine ML starts. Over his last three starts, he's allowed just two ERs in 18.2 innings (0.96). Should be fun.

Closing thought

The Dodgers are in Minneapolis tonight to take on the Twins (8:10 ET). It marks the team's first game in that city since Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. In that game, Sandy Koufax (pitching on just two days rest and with only his fastball working), beat the Twins 2-0 on a two-hitter, as the Dodgers won the title.

Koufax, who would retire after the 1966 season (at just 30-years-old) due to chronic arthritis in his left arm, pitched one of the great Game 7s of all-time. If you weren't around to either watch or listen to it (World Series games were played in the daytime back then), you're too damn young!

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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