It had to end sooner or later, but it still hurts that the Los Angeles Angels (23-28) had their eight game-winning streak snapped Monday night by their rivals up the 405 freeway.
The Los Angeles Dodgers (21-28) rode first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’ hot bat (4-for-4, four runs, two doubles) and put together a four-run fifth inning to take the lead over the Halos. The men in blue eventually took the lead for good in the seventh inning on an RBI single from left fielder Jerry Hairston.
Since the game was played at Dodger Stadium and the Angels could not use a designated hitter, their lack of bullpen depth was put on display when right-handed reliever Robert Coello relinquished the go-ahead run in the seventh.
The lack of a designated hitter also hurt the Halos because they were forced to test Albert Pujols’ injured left foot at first base, meaning that Mark Trumbo had to be moved to left field, where prospect J.B. Shuck (.315) had been providing some unexpected spark at the bottom of the Angels’ order.
Moreover, C.J. Wilson, who had jumped to the top of the rotation following the injury to former American League Cy Young runner-up Jered Weaver, got shelled for six runs through 4.2 innings. The Halos will turn to the embattled Joe Blanton (1-7 6.19 ERA) to even up the series tonight.
Needless to say, Blanton has been a major disappointment for Los Angeles, having just picked up his first win of the season in his last outing against the Kansas City Royals. Blanton will face off against Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-2, 3.30 ERA) as he hopes to regain his later-season form of years past, when he has typically improved significantly over his early-season outings.
Despite their eight-game win streak, the Angels still have quite a ways to go if they want to put in a strong showing in the American League wild card race. Their recent wins came against sub-.500 teams, and if they want to prove that they are the real deal, they will need to beat good teams and win rivalry games.
This series against the Dodgers is a prime opportunity to do just that, and though they dropped a tough first game, they can still win the series.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are hoping that Matt Kemp, who looked feckless at the plate and struck out four times Monday night, can regain his former slugging ways. The Dodgers are 28th in the MLB in home runs thanks in part to Kemp’s abysmal power struggles; he has just two home runs all year. With no Hanley Ramirez (hamstring) around to help them, the Dodgers will only go as far as Kemp takes them this season.
Both the Dodgers and the Angels had hoped their blockbuster payrolls ($216 million and $142 million respectively) would carry them to success this season. That has not been the case thus far, and if either team has any hope of living up to their potential, they will have to get their act together starting now.