Keep The Faith
Freeway Fever Running High
By Jim Hill
Sentinel Sports Columnist
Baseball fans in the Southland from south in Orange County to north in Los Angeles intensified their bickering this week for their favorite team-Angels/Dodgers- as fever ran high for a possible Freeway Series.
With the trading deadline in the rearview mirror, the Dodgers and Angels began the week as the top two teams in baseball. The Dodgers have the best record in all of baseball and not even a 4-6 dip in their last 10 games could alter that.
The Angels meanwhile are the hottest team in all of baseball and passed both the Yankees and Red Sox to take over the best record in the American League with a 63.40 record.
Remarkably, the Angels are doing this without two of the primary stars Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero on the Disabled List.
Former Yankee bobby Abreu is 6th in the AL in hitting with a .322 average, Juan Rivera is 9th at .316 and Mr. Everything Chone Figgins has been knocking the stitching off the ball with a .313 average, 84 runs scored, 126 hits and 31 stolen bases.
The Angeles cling to a four game lead in the West over the feisty Texas Rangers who just will not go away. The Rangers will come to town this weekend for a three game set at Angel Stadium with the division lead on the line.
The Dodgers on the other hand has continued their surprising season in the NL and will return to the friendly confines of Dodgers Stadium this week with a 7 game cushion in the West over both the Giants and Rockies.
Although the Dodgers have not played .500 baseball in their last 10 games, they still manage to maintain the best record in baseball (65-40) with timely hitting and solid pitching from their much malign pitching staff.
Youngster Matt Kemp has been something special, 7th in the NL in hitting with a .315 average, 14 home runs, 64 RBI and a .488 slugging percentage. Imagine what kind of player he will be when he’s not striking out 89 times?
One of the primary reasons the Dodgers did not make a big splash for pitching during the trading deadline was that everybody requested either catcher Russell Martin who was an all star last year or first baseman James Loney. Loney is third on the team in average at .291, but leads the team with 66 RBI.
Another reason for the Dodgers success is gifted second baseman Orlando Hudson, second on the team in hitting with a .292 average and 51 RBI, but his defense had help a young pitching staff survive the first quarter of the season.
The Dodgers will host the Braves this weekend, but their fans will have one eye on blue and another on red with hopes Freeway Fever will run high in October.