The Bay Area had one in 1989 and New York celebrated its own in 2000, with Southern California baseball fans believing that perhaps 2022 was the year to have the World Series spotlight all to themselves this October.
Yet in less than a month, the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers have stopped projecting a Freeway World Series vibe, while each team has proceeded down a bumpy trail instead. The clubs will hook up for a two-game interleague series starting Tuesday.
The Angels took action last week when they fired manager Joe Maddon in the midst of a franchise-record 14-game losing streak that began when they were one game out of first place. They entered Monday’s play behind by nine games.
The Dodgers are a first-place club, but they enter Tuesday’s home game off a 2-4 road trip, including a three-game sweep by the rival San Francisco Giants over the weekend.
The Dodgers’ offense produced just four runs during the three games against the Giants as the lineup appears to have abandoned its disciplined approach at the plate that has been key to run production. Los Angeles was 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position against the Giants.
After a torrid May (.342, 12 homers, 27 RBIs), Dodgers leadoff man Mookie Betts is on a 2-for-31 slide.
“I think we know that we’re really good, so sometimes you just think it’s gonna happen instead of kind of taking charge going out there and making it happen,” said Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner, who did have a hit on every game of the trip. “So I think that definitely is the case, sometimes. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes.”
The Angels saw their own MVP bat go quiet recently as Mike Trout went on an 0-for-26 dry spell in the midst of the team’s losing streak. Maddon was fired last week after the 12th of those 14 consecutive losses, with third-base coach Phil Nevin named interim manager for the remainder of the season.
The Angels are 2-2 over their last four games, but dropped a weekend home series to the New York Mets. The Angels played Sunday without star Shohei Ohtani, who was given a rest day in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak. He had three hits and a home run Saturday.
“This is more of a mutual thing to give him some time,” said Nevin, after keeping Ohtani from the starting lineup for just the fourth time this season. “He needs it. I know he seems like Superman. Even Superman took a day off once in a while.”
No doubt Monday’s off day for both clubs was welcomed.
The Dodgers will send their top pitcher to the mound Tuesday in right-hander Tony Gonsolin (7-0, 1.58 ERA), who remains a few innings shy of officially qualifying as the second-best ERA in the National League. Gonsolin faced the Angels once in 2020, giving up four runs over six innings.
The Angels will counter with right-hander Noah Syndergaard (4-4, 3.69), who has given up just one run in two of his last three starts. Syndergaard is 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA in five career starts against the Dodgers but hasn’t faced them since 2019. He has a 2.70 ERA in three starts (20 innings) at Dodger Stadium.
The Angels could see the return of right fielder Taylor Ward, who has been out since June 3 with a hamstring injury.
–Field Level Media