Angels beat Dodgers, 6-4, in Freeway Series finale
Soon-to-be-demoted backups littered the lineups, players who would be either optioned to the minor leagues or exit the clubhouse indefinitely with warm wishes from the regulars.
They enjoyed the field time while most of the 35,310 in attendance at Dodger Stadium headed toward the freeways. The score of Saturday’s Freeway Series finale between the Dodgers and Angels had as much value as Enron stock. (For the curious, the Angels won, 6-4.)
The regulars packed their bags in the clubhouse. Opening day is Monday and the Dodgers had a plane to catch to Pittsburgh, where Vicente Padilla will start against the Pirates’ Zach Duke. The Angels had traffic to beat back to Anaheim, where Jered Weaver will face Minnesota’s Scott Baker at Angel Stadium.
Spring training was over. But the Angels gave it a worthy climax with Kendry Morales’ go-ahead grand slam against Chad Billingsley in the third inning, a shot that smacked off the wraparound video board in right field below the loge level.
“It was a breaking ball I left up” in the strike zone, said Billingsley, who threw 2 2/3 innings and gave up six hits and six runs. “You can’t do that.”
That shot sealed the Angels’ two-game sweep in the series and gave the Dodgers their sixth consecutive spring-training loss.
“I don’t concern myself with the record as much as I do with how we play,” Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said. “We’re ready to go. I think these guys for probably the last week have been chomping at the bit and you get to the point where you just don’t want anything to go wrong.”
Nothing did, at least visibly, for either team Saturday.
Billingsley said he “fell behind hitters trying to be too perfect. Overall, I’m pitching good. My arm felt great.” He finished the spring with a 4.67 earned-run average in five starts.
Joel Pineiro pitched four innings for the Angels, giving up four runs and seven hits, and said it was “the strongest I’ve felt all spring.” He finished the spring with a 4.38 ERA in six starts.
The Dodgers begin their march toward a third consecutive National League West title, hoping Manny Ramirez isn’t a shell of his former self and that a stout pitching rotation makes up for the lack of an apparent ace.
The Angels will play for their fourth consecutive American League West title, wondering whether the free-agency loss of pitching workhorse John Lackey will hurt all that much and whether its outfield rotation of Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera and Hideki Matsui is too old (their average age is 34).
But those questions will be vetted in fine detail from summer until fall. For now, the Dodgers finish the spring with an 11-17 record, and the Angels with a 13-15 mark. The players just want to start the regular season.
“You get tired of it, but it’s part of the game,” Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp said. “You’ve got to go through spring training to work out the kinks to get ready for the season, but we’re definitely ready to go.”