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Sunday Night Baseball Preview

   by ASA - 05/16/2008

New York Mets (Maine) at New York Yankees (Wang)

The opening weekend of interleague play concludes with the biggest of the rivalry series. In the 2000 World Series, the Yankees and Mets met in what was tabbed, “The Subway Series.â€쳌 The Yankees easily dispatched of the Mets in five games in that series but since then, with the exception of the 2003 season, this has been a very evenly matched series.

The Yankees are 35-25 lifetime in interleague series with the Mets, which has played a big role in them owning baseball’s best interleague record at 113-79. Since the 2000 Fall Classic, though, the Yankees and Mets have split five of the last seven years – and three straight years – with each team winning three games. The home team has taken two out of three games each of the last two years.

Both teams were expected to be sitting at or near the top of the standings in their respective divisions. That has not been the case, though. Coming into the series, the Yankees were in last place in the AL East, the farthest into the season they have been in the cellar since the 1980s. The Mets’ standing (3rd) in the NL East is a little better but their record is only three games better than the Yankees’.

The biggest issue for both teams has been surprisingly mediocre offenses. The Yankee lineup is littered with All-Stars from top to bottom but that has not resulted in many runs. They are 23rd in baseball with just 4.1 runs per game and are fresh off a 4-game series with Tampa Bay in which they scored a total of six runs. Injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada have made an already struggling Yankee offense even worse.

The Mets are scoring at a little better clip with 4.8 runs per game, good for 10th in the league. But they’re hitting just .256 as a team and stars David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado have yet to get on track.

The lack of offense in both dugouts could make the third game of this series a low-scoring one, especially with Chien-Ming Wang and John Maine toeing the rubber. The Yankees won the first seven games Wang started this year before dropping the last two. Neither was necessarily Wang’s fault. He ranks first in the AL with six wins, fifth with 59 innings pitched and ninth with a 2.90 ERA. He owns a solid 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has allowed just one home run on the year.

Johan Santana may get all of the pitching headlines for the Mets but Maine has pitched as well as any other Met hurler. Maine hasn’t allowed more than two runs since his first start of the year, posting a 2.81 ERA while holding batters to a .213 average. He got shelled in his only start against the Yankees last year, though, allowing five runs in five innings.

While the pitchers and lack of hitting on each side point to a low-scoring game, this is a series that has a history of high-scoring games. The over is 8-2 in the last 10 games in Yankee Stadium and 11-5 in the last 16 meetings overall. Over those 16 games, the Yankees and Mets have combined for 10.4 runs per game.

Each New York team has failed to make expectations at this point. When the Yankees and Mets meet, though, you can throw records out of the window. City pride is on the line and both teams will bring their “Aâ€쳌 games. ESPN couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday night baseball game.

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