While one key Dodgers player took another big step toward peak form Sunday night, a key Angels slugger stubbed his toe. Literally.
Angels left fielder Justin Upton was pulled in the first inning of an 8-4 Freeway Series exhibition victory over the Dodgers when he sprained his left big-toe while running into the low wall at Angel Stadium.
Upton battled right-knee tendinitis all spring and did not make his Cactus League debut until last Tuesday. He had one hit in seven at-bats in four spring games and didn’t even make it to the plate in his fifth game.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy lofted a ball into the left-field corner. Upton ran along the warning track and lunged for the ball, which dropped for a run-scoring double. Upton exited after consulting manager Brad Ausmus and an athletic trainer.
“It’s sore,” Upton said. “That’s to be expected.”
Will Upton, who will bat third for the Angels, be ready for Thursday’s regular-season opener at Oakland?
“We’ll see what happens [Monday],” he said. “That’s the hope. I hope I walk in [Monday] and it feels good.”
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who is recovering from elbow and hip surgeries, was feeling good after playing seven innings in his third exhibition start and making a series of defensive plays that tested his range and readiness.
Seager backhanded Andrelton Simmons’ hard second-inning grounder and threw to second to start a double play. He scooted quickly to his left to field Peter Bourjos’ third-inning grounder and threw to first for the out. He fielded three other grounders cleanly and threw to first for outs.
“I finally got a bunch of ground balls to work on some stuff, to test some angles,” said Seager, who also singled and scored in the first. “I turned the double play, got a couple of balls I had to go each way on. It was a good test.”
Mike Trout hit an RBI double to left in the third for the Angels, and Albert Pujols lined a two-run homer to center in the fourth. The Angels snapped a 4-4 tie with a seventh-inning run that scored on Dodgers second baseman Matt Beaty’s error.
Angels outfield prospect Brandon Marsh capped a three-run eighth with a two-run single. Dodgers right fielder Cody Bellinger capped a three-run seventh with a two-run single to right. Muncy, who hit .178 with twice as many strikeouts (16) as hits (eight) in 17 Cactus League games, added another double in the third.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was unable to finish the eighth, giving up three runs — two earned — and two hits, including a Wilfredo Tovar line drive that caromed off his left leg, just below the knee. But Jansen remained in the game.
“He said he felt fine, it didn’t bother him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He didn’t even wince. He wasn’t compensating for it on pitches after that.”
Angels starter Felix Pena allowed one run and three hits in 3 1/3 innings, using a nasty slider to strike out nine. The right-hander struck out A.J. Pollock twice, both with sliders in the dirt, ending the first inning with a runner on second and the third with runners on second and third.
Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling allowed one run and three hits in three innings, walking one and striking out none in a 49-pitch tune-up before his Game 2 regular-season start against Arizona on Friday.