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Tale of Two Pitching Staffs

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On opening day the contrast between the two teams separated by 27 miles of Interstate 5 was none more apparent than the pitching. While the Dodgers pitching staff demoralized the offense, the Angels pitching though not stellar kept the team in the game before getting the two back-to-back homers from Hideki Matsui and Kendry Morales to cap their victory.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre decided to throw out the grizzled veteran Vicente Padilla who is only surpassed by Cliff Lee in road victories since 2008. The fact that Padilla didn’t have a great spring giving up 13 runs in five games started really showed as his sinker didn’t really sink - the ball that landed in the Allegheny River off of Garrett Jones’ bat in the first inning evidence of that and even that didn’t sink in the water.

Meanwhile down by the Happiest Place on Earth Jered Weaver, the model of consistency in his four years in the Majors, went six innings giving up three runs. He got into a little trouble in the second inning when Delmon Young tied up the game 2-2 with a two-run homer, but Jeff Mathis responded with a solo homer for himself in the bottom of the inning to give the Angels the 3-2 lead.

Back in Pittsburgh, Padilla got in trouble again in the fifth inning intentionally loading the bases after giving up a run to put the Dodgers down 4-2. Ramon Ortiz, who is usually a starter and hadn’t pitched in the Majors since 2007, gave up a bases clearing double to pinch hitter Ryan Church, all three runs charged to Padilla. Ortiz promptly gave up a run earned on his own when Ronny Cedeno knocked Church home on a single.

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Now down 8-2 the Dodgers made a valiant attempt to come back in the game with a three-run seventh inning to bring the deficit to a respectable 8-5. While the Dodgers got good shutout innings from Carlos Monasterios making his Major League debut and Russ Ortiz, George Sherrill came in the eighth and continued his springtime woes. After getting the first two out, a double, walk and homer to Andrew McCutchen, Jones and Ryan Doumit made it impossible for the Dodgers to come back.

The Dodgers in the top of ninth didn’t put up a fight with Matt Kemp striking out looking against Octavio Dotel.

When Jered Weaver and reliever Kevin Jepsen got into jams late in the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia stuck with them having full confidence they can get out of the mess they created. Does that sound familiar Lakers fans? Both came through when they had loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh innings yet ceded no ground to the Twins.

Hideki Matsui and Kendry Morales responded in the eighth inning leading off with back-to-back homers rewarding the pitchers with a comfortable 6-3 cushion.

It’s only one game, as the Dodgers endlessly repeated after their game, but Torre and the Dodgers better hope this isn’t a script that repeats itself. If so the remaining 161 games will wind up carving a long bumpy road through the summer.

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Meanwhile the Angels show that despite the defections of Chone Figgins and John Lackey, they just keep chugging right along.