The Dodgers returned to the familiar confines of Southern California on Sunday evening to open the annual three game Freeway Series against the Angels. The first game was in the unfriendly confines of Anaheim Stadium and the Dodgers have lost 14 of their last 15 exhibition games in Disney according to Joe Davis. The Angels are 18-2-1 at home during their last 21 exhibition games. Of course those numbers mean absolutely nothing within the scope of meaningless spring games.
The Dodgers won a meaningless spring game on Sunday evening, defeating the Angels by a 4-2 score. Kenta Maeda got the start for the Dodgers in his last outing before the regular season. The Angels countered with rookie right hander Parker Bridwell.
The Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth to rally from a 2-0 deficit before scoring an additional two runs in the seventh inning to take the lead. The Dodgers used two solo home runs from Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig in the seventh inning and two scoring ground balls in the fifth frame.
Maeda looked good as he turned in a quality effort. He wasn’t great but he was effective. The Japanese right hander tossed five innings while allowing two earned runs on four hits and struck out five without a walk. Maeda’s mound opponent Bridwell was effective too as he threw three scoreless innings allowing just two hits and striking out one.
Maeda made 49 pitches and his only mistakes were a pair of home runs to Zach Cozart (in the second inning) and Mike Trout in the fourth. Cozart’s home run gave the Angels a 1-0 lead. His home run hooked just inside the left field foul pole over the short wall. Trout’s blast was to straight away center field that landed in front of the rocks.
Former Dodger Jim Johnson came in with a gas can in the top of the fifth inning. The Dodgers were able to mount a nifty little rally to tie the score. Enrique Hernandez led off the inning with a walk. Taylor’s ground ball single into right, and Corey Seager’s bloop single into left loaded the bases with nobody out. Consecutive ground-outs from Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger brought across both runs. Two innings later dingers from Taylor and Puig put the Dodgers ahead for good. Puig’s blast landed just inches above Mike Trout’s outstretched glove in center right field. Taylor finished the game going 3 for 4 with two runs scored. The rest of the game was pretty routine.
J.T. Chargois, Scott Alexander, Kenley Jansen and Josh Fields all provided scoreless relief for the Dodgers over the final four innings. The Dodger bats were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
The roster crunch looms for the Dodgers as they come back to Dodger Stadium for the final two games of the Freeway series versus the Angels. Rich Hill will take the mound for the Dodgers on Monday night. The Angels will counter with Matt Shoemaker. We’re so close to real baseball you can taste it. The flavor is baseball games that count. that’s something we can sink our teeth into.