Dodgers and Angels have different weekends

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Photo above: PetCo Park, San Diego, CA. (Claudia Gestro)

One of the big surprises in the National League in recent years has been the Washington Nationals. Ever since the original Washington Senators left town to become the Minnesota Twins and the second Washington Senators (or as they were officially known as, the Nationals) moved to Texas and became the Rangers, our nation’s capitol has wanted a baseball franchise. In 2005 the Nats, once the Montreal Expos, opened their first season.

For the past two seasons the Nationals have been at or near the top of the N.L. East Division. Right now they lead the N.L. East by seven games over the Atlanta Braves and they have the third best record in baseball.

So it was no surprise the Nationals came to Dodger Stadium and beat the home team in the first game of their series. Gio Gonzalez got the win for the Nats with the big help of outfielder Denard Span who slapped two homeruns against the Dodgers, the second a two-run homer in the fifth.

This is the kind of hitting the Dodgers need for their run to the playoffs. They are lucky the Colorado Rockies beat the San Francisco Giants last night, otherwise the Giants would only be one game behind in the standings.

For their part, the Dodgers will have Korean ace Hyun-Jin Ryu in the lineup, which will help their starting rotation, but it’s the Dodger bats that continue to fall short. Juan Uribe is scheduled to return for the Dodgers so that should help their scoring.

In their recent trip south to San Diego to face the surging Padres, the N.L. West-leading Dodgers dropped two straight games in extra innings by walk-off singles. The faces in the ballpark got long and weary Saturday night when the regulation nine innings ended in a 1-1 tie. Someone — anyone — score a run in the ninth so we can all go home and watch Sports Center! And my home is over 100 miles north of Petco Park.

Dodgers ace Zack Greinke on the mound. (Time Forbes)
Dodgers ace Zack Greinke on the mound.
(Time Forbes)

In the top of the 10th Padres manager Bud Black was ejected for calling on … yelling at … first base umpire Clint Fagen to rethink his call that Yasiel Puig had checked his swing, a crucial call considering Matt Kemp was on second and Puig is the Dodgers best hitter at this time. Puig struck out and the Padres came to bat in the bottom of the 10th.

That’s when Will Venable got on base and stole second. Alexi Amarista came up (after Rymer Liriano struck out) and plopped a single over Hanley Ramirez allowing Venable to slide home, face first to end the game, 2-1.

Two nights in a row the Dodgers were in a position to win the game in late innings and both times their bats failed to get the job done. On Friday night the Dodgers managed to load the bases in the ninth — but failed to score. They did manage to beat the Padres on Sunday, but the Dodgers had already lost one game in their lead over the Giants in the standings.

So this is my prediction: the Giants will come back to win the N.L. West title. Here’s why, in a short explanation: The Milwaukee Brewers swept the Dodgers in L.A. and the Giants swept the Brewers in San Francisco, crushing the Brewers in two games with a scores of 13-2 in the first game and 15-5 in the third game. The Giants are scoring runs right now and the Dodgers can’t score when it matters.

The score in the second game of the Brewers-Giants series was a more respectable 3-1, but the Brewers still lost. And the Brewers are now one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the N.L. Central Division.

For tonight’s game Doug Fister (12-5) gets the start for the Nats and Clayton Kershaw (16-3) starts for the Dodgers. It will be a tough night for the batters on both teams and the win will turn on the smallest mistakes.

The other, bigger, series being played in Southern California was in Anaheim, the heart of Orange County, where the Oakland Athletics were visiting the L.A. Angels of Anaheim to battle for the American League West Division lead. You might think this four game series would have ended in more or less a tie, considering the Angels lost two of three in Oakland, but it didn’t. The Angels swept the A’s, who are now four and a half games behind the Angels.

Tonight the Angels will face the visiting Houston Astros; Brad Peacock gets the start for the Astros and C.J. Wilson will start on the mound for the Angels.