AL leading NL after first weekend of Interleague
Verlander, Lucroy two of the top performers in each circuit
Each National League team would like to be the one that captures the league's third straight World Series title this October, which would give the NL three consecutive World Series winners for the first time in 30 years.
Prior to snapping that streak, each club on the Senior Circuit needs to contribute this summer if the NL plans to snap its eight-year Interleague Play losing streak against the American League.
The AL jumped out to an early lead after the opening Interleague weekend, posting a 24-18 record against its NL counterparts. The AL won eight of the 14 series, with the White Sox and Mariners recording the only weekend sweeps.
Despite its extended Interleague struggles, the NL has narrowed the gap in each of the last three seasons. Last season, its .480 winning percentage (121-131) was the league's best since the first year of the losing streak, when it went 125-126 (.498) in 2004.
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
The first weekend has to be deemed somewhat of a success for the NL, considering that two teams were swept and two did not participate.
Given the unbalanced amount of teams in the two leagues, the NL Central-leading Cardinals and NL West-leading Dodgers spent the weekend playing each other. Meanwhile, the two last-place teams in those divisions entering play Monday -- the Cubs and Rockies -- were swept by the White Sox and Mariners, respectively.
As for the top individual performances from the season's first weekend of Interleague Play, the AL provided many of those.
Justin Verlander came within two outs of his second career Interleague no-hitter and third overall. His eventual one-hit shutout was one of three complete-game wins by AL starters, while the NL had zero. Last season, the NL topped the AL in that category during Interleague Play, with the Senior Circuit turning in 14 complete games to the Junior Circuit's 10.
"I'm walking out there [in the ninth inning] and the crowd's going crazy," Verlander said on MLB Tonight. "The way my stuff was and I was locating the ball pretty well, I really thought I was going to get it."
The AL also flexed its muscle at the plate, with 11 players recording multihomer weekends. Only three NL hitters accomplished the feat, as the AL outhomered the NL, 53-33.
The Red Sox hit nine home runs against the Phillies to lead all clubs over the weekend, with shortstop Mike Aviles being the only player in either league to hit three homers. The White Sox were second as a team with their eight against the crosstown-rival Cubs.
"Interleague is kind of a change of pace for everyone, especially with a rivalry with the Cubs," said White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, who homered twice and reached base in eight of his 14 plate appearances. "It kind of adds a little extra incentive."
In the NL, a pair of Brewers led the way offensively, thanks largely to their 16-4 drubbing of the Twins on Sunday. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy led all NL players with eight RBIs over the weekend, and teammate Ryan Braun finished second with seven. No other player in the NL had more than four.
Braun's .615 average (8-for-13) was second in the NL among players with at least five at-bats, behind only Melky Cabrera of the Giants. Cabrera hit .727 (8-for-11) to lead San Francisco to a series victory against the Athletics.
The opening of Interleague Play seemed to be popular among the fans as well, drawing more people to the ballpark than any pre-Memorial Day weekend ever. The 45-game slate brought in 1,652,935 fans, making it the best-attended weekend at any point in a season since July 24-26, 2009, when 1,684,095 fans attended 46 games.
There are 210 games remaining on the Interleague Play docket this season, which resumes June 8.