The famed Freeway Series took place last week in a season that has been very different for both Los Angeles teams. The Angels have been hovering around .500 after a loss to Boston on June 28 gave Anaheim a 41-41 record. The Dodgers, conversely, rode a four-game win streak down the I-5 to take on their L.A. counterparts.
The three-game series offered its fair share of highlight moments, and a twist-ending that was hard to predict. The Angels, despite their struggles, were able to protect their field and fend off the Dodgers, winning the series two games to one.
The first game wasn’t settled until the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers held a 2-1 lead and needed just one more out to take the win. Angels pinch-hitter David Fletcher wouldn’t let his team lose that easily. He hit a single that allowed Shohei Ohtani to reach home and tie up the score. Then, Ian Kinsler took the plate and drove a walk-off single to right field, helping Anaheim snatch a 3-2 victory away from the Dodgers.
Ohtani returned to action for the first time in a month on July 3 against the Mariners. Before game three of the Freeway Series, he had registered only two hits in five outings. A bruised right knee relegated Ohtani to the bench for this match, but that didn’t stop the Angels’ sensation from making an impact.
Albert Pujols tied the game with a home run in the sixth inning. From there on out, it was Ohtani’s time to shine. He came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and with his lone at bat, hit a homer of his own to bring the final score to 4-3.
Game two was the only time in the series that either team won by more than one. Justin Turner ensured the Dodgers never trailed, giving his team a 2-0 lead with a single in the fifth. A Mike Trout home run made it a one score game, but Yasiel Puig’s ninth inning homer clinched the victory for the Dodgers.
July has been a rough month for the Angels offensively. After the first seven games of the month, their 19 runs scored were dead last in the MLB. The team’s collective .195 batting average was second worst in the league in that span. It comes as no surprise that Trout was their best hitter, registering a .300 batting average and six hits.
The Angles are hoping the bats come alive, because the pitching staff has been nothing short of sensational to start the month. Opposing offenses were only able to score 28 runs on Anaheim, and did so with just a .217 batting average. Andrew Heaney put on a show in the final game against the Dodgers, fanning 10 batters, and earning his fifth win.
The Dodgers suffered from anemic offense in their slow start to the season, but it appears that the team is putting it all together at the right time. At the end of the Freeway Series, the Dodgers had a collective .292 batting average, and scored 53 runs. Both of these numbers were good for third in the league. Matt Kemp continues to be a revelation in his return to Los Angeles, notching 11 hits, 11 RBIs, and a .458 batting average to start the month.
Pitching doesn’t appear to be a problem for the Dodgers either. They have allowed a batting average of .201 to opposing hitters, the lowest mark in the league. Teams have also scored 22 runs against the Dodgers in the opening week of July, the third lowest total in the MLB. Ross Stripling was the only pitcher to collect a win against the Angels, striking out seven batters in the process.
The All-Star break begins in just one week, but before it does, these two teams will square off again at Dodgers Stadium. The latest installment of the Freeway Series begins on July 13, and both ball clubs should expect to be in the same position they were last time, save for any dramatic changes.
It’s hard to anticipate what will happen when the Angels make the trip to Downtown Los Angeles, but another series win would be monumental in taking momentum into the All-Star break. The Dodgers will look to avoid losing steam themselves, since they will have five days off following their bout with Anaheim.
There is a lot at stake when these two teams meet up again. It will soon become clear which one can take the pressure, and finish the Freeway Series as Los Angeles’ top baseball team.