Angels’ victory manufactured

first_imgANAHEIM – The Angels’ latest stake in their claim to Southern California baseball supremacy – a 6-2 victory on Saturday night that drove home the point yet again that the Dodgers are putty in the hands of most any American League club – will officially go in the books as an interleague game. In fact, it was anything but. The Angels played classic National League baseball, working counts, manufacturing runs, forcing issues and not only creating opportunities but – and this is the important part – actually taking advantage of them. The Dodgers played modern National League baseball, swinging early and often against Jered Weaver, treating a talented young pitcher they had never seen before to far too many easy innings and, as usual, leaving runners on the basepaths in bulk. Consequently, that dying quail turned into a death knell for the Dodgers, a two-run double that gave the Angels a 5-2 lead and a chokehold on the game. Even in their three hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Angels were productive. With runners on first and second and none out in the first, Vladimir Guerrero hit an easy double-play grounder to Dodgers third baseman Wilson Betemit, who threw to Kent at second for the first out. Kent then threw a bouncer to first that got past Nomar Garciaparra, allowing Reggie Willits to scamper on in for the Angels’ first run. Kent now has committed as many errors (eight) as he had all of last season. In the fifth, after Mark Hendrickson issued a leadoff walk to Mike Napoli and gave up a single to Erick Aybar, Chone Figgins grounded into a double play the Dodgers did complete. But Napoli jogged home on it, breaking a 2-2 tie and putting the Angels ahead to stay. By the time the Angels finally did take a fruitless at-bat with a runner in scoring position, an inning-ending popup to shortstop by Gary Matthews in the seventh, they already had a commanding 6-2 lead, and the Dodgers already appeared to be done. The Dodgers went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position for the second game in a row and moved into the major-league lead in runners left on base by stranding eight more. “If I could give you answer, we could probably solve it and not be talking about it,” Kent said. “But that is the nature of the game. It is one of the reasons we play so many ballgames.” The problem with that theory is that even if the Dodgers do follow through on it, putting it all together well enough late in the season and in the playoffs to reach the World Series, they will run smack into an AL opponent when they get there. And you know what happens when the Dodgers run into AL opponents. “This is a different year, and different things happen,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said, ignoring the fact that two games into the 15-game interleague schedule, it has been nothing but the same old story for his club. This time, what happened was Weaver, who for the first time in his promising career faced the team he grew up rooting for in Simi Valley. He was far from vintage, but the Dodgers were far from being in a position to do much about it. Kent tied the game with a solo homer in the second, and the Dodgers eventually capitalized on Weaver’s leadoff walk to Luis Gonzalez in the fourth to tie it again on Andre Ethier’s two-out single. Beyond that, the Dodgers never really made Weaver (3-3) sweat. He left with two outs in the seventh inning, having allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six. [email protected] (818) 713-3675 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! And, also as usual when it comes to these interleague affairs, losing. For the 19th time in the past 20 occasions that they have dared venture into an AL ballpark. In front of a sellout crowd of 44,380 – the second evening in a row that the Angels set a new regular-season single-game attendance record in the four-decades-old edifice presently known as Angel Stadium – the home team put on a convincing and effective clinic in the age-old principles of small ball. For proof of that, one need look no further than the postgame comments of their manager, former career NL catcher Mike Scioscia. “We put guys in motion,” he said. “Our situational hitting was there. We were 2 for 5 with runners in scoring position. We got guys on base, and we got clutch hits. Offensively, there is much more chemistry now than at any time this year.” The play that summed up the entire evening for the opportunistic Angels came in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on second and third and one out, Robb Quinlan lifted a dying quail of a pop fly into shallow left field, just shallow enough that left fielder Luis Gonzalez had no chance to get there, but just deep enough that shortstop Rafael Furcal had no chance, either. last_img read more