Injuries Hit Angels Even Harder Than Dodgers

Sure, the Dodgers have had injuries, principally to their starting staff, though to the middle and bottom of the group, not to the top, and in left field, where the team has unusual depth. But imagine if the team had lost, for an extended period like up to a full year or more, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda, Kenley Jansen and Corey Seager. Well, that’s the spot the Angels are in, with their number one starter, Garrett Richards, out for one to one-and-one-half seasons, with their next best starter, Andrew Heanery, out for

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maybe the season or longer, with their star closer, Huston Street, out indefinitely, and with their shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, out a couple of months. Throw in veteran starter C.J. Wilson, out likely for the season, and their own injuries in left field, first to Daniel Nava, now back on the field, but now to Craig Gentry, plus to the guy who would have replaced Simmons, Cliff Pennington.

As the Angels’ injuries mounted, they began losing. On April 27, they were at .500 (which the Dodgers matched only two days later), but then they lost ten of their next 12, including six in a row, before this weekend’s resurgence. Facing off against the then first-place Mariners in Seattle, the Angels’ silent offense awoke, and with solid hitting and clutch relief from the new closer, Joe Smith, and finally from a stellar performance from the new ace, Hector Santiago, the team swept the Mariners, and take on the Dodgers tonight with a three-game winning streak. The teams play four straight games against each other, beginning with two at Dodger Stadium, then two more in Anaheim.

Will the Angels continue to battle, despite their precarious roster position, or was the weekend an aberration, based likely as much on the fact that Seattle had been playing way over their own heads and had no business being in first place, as it was due to the remaining talent and fortitude of the Angels? We’ll find out much over the next four nights, as the Dodgers, who themselves had won eight of twelve in May before yesterday’s loss, are in a dogfight for first in the woefully bad NL West with the Giants, who themselves have made big strides the past few days, finally getting good, in fact great, performances from the bottom two starters in their rotation, Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. Of

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course, those games were against the overrated Diamondbacks, who are rapidly sinking to the bottom of baseball’s worst division.

Tonight the Dodgers’ face the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker, who had a brilliant rookie season in 2014 (16-4, 3.04), and who has been bad, very bad, ever since (8-15, 5.18), and who, were it not for the injuries to the team’s top starters, would now be starting instead in Triple-A. The Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda, he of a great beginning
to his career but also of recent troubles, will try to right his own ship against the suddenly power driven Angels, who have scored 29 runs over their last four games, while hitting .336.

At least Maeda should not have to worry about a repeat of his last outing in which he gave up two homers to his opposing pitcher, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. Shoemaker, pitching in the designated hitter league, has had exactly two major league at bats in his career, going oh-for-two. He was well-prepared for a major league career involving seldom having to come up to bat – through his all or part of eight minor league seasons, he never once had a single plate appearance.

Ban the DH in the minors! Pitchers should have some experience batting when they get to the major leagues.

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