Dodgers fans’ chants of “Let’s Go Dodgers” reverberated throughout Angels stadium Sunday night as the pre-season Freeway series between these two exciting teams got underway. This is hopefully a pre-cursor to a 2018 World Series match-up.
While the Angels bulked up their offense and defense with major off-season acquisitions of Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart, the Dodgers kept their talented line-up intact, and hopefully will not suffer too much with the injury to Justin Turner.
As Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts mentioned to reporter Alanna Rizzo from SportsNetLA last night about the upcoming season, “We’re ready. We’re ready. And I think us as a group, as a team, we’re in a good place right now, and all spring long, I think we’ve played with a lot of competitiveness, a lot of care, a lot of energy, so we’re chomping on the bit for Thursday.”
On the Angels side, even though they look stronger than last year, pre-season has presented a lot of questions with the biggest one being is Shohei Ohtani ready to play at the major league level even though his spring training has been less than impressive? Angels Manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t seem to have any doubts. When asked by Claudia Gestro from the Los Angeles Post-Examiner whether he sees Ohtani as more of a pitcher or hitter, Scioscia replied, “Both. I think he’s going to be a big part of our rotation, obviously… but he’s going to be part of our offense…. He’ll contribute on both sides for sure.”
In their head to head matchup last night, Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, who’s 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in spring training, grooved through a strong and confident 5 innings even though he allowed solo home runs to Mike Trout and new Angels third basemen, Zack Cozart.
The Angels starting pitcher Parker Bridwell labored through his 3 innings, throwing 67 pitches, but escaped a bases loaded jam in the 2nd inning, and did not allow any runs. The Dodgers were very patient at the plate, and home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez kept a tight strike zone, which would’ve saved Parker work if some more close calls had gone his way.
Once Bridwell left the game after his 3 innings with a 2-0 lead, the Dodgers went to work on the Angels bullpen and took a 4-2 lead in the 7th inning. The Angels bullpen definitely stands as another question mark, and if the Angels starters can’t go deep into games, that will present a definite problem. Dodgers pitchers J.T. Chargois, Scott Alexander, Kenley Jansen and Josh Fields kept the Angels scoreless after Maeda retired for the night.
From my perspective, the Angels might stumble a bit with their new lineup getting acclimated to the heat of the L.A. sun and media, but if they can find some consistency and synergy early in the season, they could be a team to watch. I think patience; confidence and working together will be key to their development and hopefully a playoff run. That’s the only way they’ll be able to drown out the loud and proud presence of the Dodgers success in Los Angeles.