No team had a better interleague record than the Los Angeles Angels last season, and the Dodgers seemed to have a seat front and center.
After one game against their crosstown rivals in 2008, the scene looks the same.
The Angels will look for their seventh consecutive win against the Dodgers on Saturday when they continue their three-game Freeway Series at Angel Stadium.
The Angels (25-19) went 14-4 in interleague play in 2007, an impressive stretch they kicked off with a three-game home sweep of the Dodgers. They went on to win two of three later in the summer at Dodger Stadium, and had won seven of eight overall in the series heading into Friday’s series opener.
It’s a new year, but it was the same result for the Dodgers (21-20). The Angels used a strong pitching performance from Joe Saunders and two RBIs from Vladimir Guerrero to top the Dodgers 4-2 for the sixth straight time in Anaheim.
“I never want to come out, but we’ve got a couple of the best guys, at setup and closer, in baseball,” Saunders said.
The Angels have a 4.37 staff ERA that ranks just 11th in the AL, but they’ve had no problems keeping the Dodgers off the scoreboard in recent years. The Angels have outscored the Dodgers 50-14 in winning eight of their last nine games, having only once allowed more than two runs in a game.
Saunders has been excellent, but Ervin Santana (6-0, 2.63 ERA) has been just as impressive atop the Angels’ rotation.
But Santana, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in recent wins over Oakland and Kansas City, is coming off his worst outing of the season. He allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings at Tampa Bay on Sunday, though he didn’t earn a decision in the Angels’ 8-5 loss.
“It took him a little while to get his bearings in the game, but his arm was live,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He had good stuff; he just wasn’t exactly where he needed to be (early on).”
Santana was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two Freeway Series starts last season, winning at home and losing on the road. That’s been a trend with Santana throughout his career—the right-hander is 27-9 with a 3.01 ERA at Angel Stadium, but is 14-21 with a 6.62 ERA away from home.
The Dodgers haven’t been very good lately regardless of where they’ve played. After a stretch where it won eight straight and 10 of 11, manager Joe Torre’s team has dropped six of its last eight.
Much like in their recent history with the Angels, the Dodgers’ problems have stemmed from an inability to score runs. They’ve scored just 25 in their last eight games, and Friday’s two-run total was the fourth time they’ve scored two or fewer in that span.
Considering their offensive woes, the Dodgers would love to see an impressive start from Chan Ho Park (1-0, 2.16). Park has been effective in 12 appearances out of the bullpen, but he hasn’t made a start in more than a year.
He allowed seven runs in four innings while pitching for the Mets on April 30, 2007, in a loss to Florida in his last start. Park, who began his career with the Dodgers in 1994, will make his first start with them since 2001.
Park is 1-1 with a 12.91 ERA in his last two starts in Anaheim.