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SCOTT OSTLER

Dodgers Are Swept Right Out of Town

April 06, 1987|SCOTT OSTLER

OK, so the Dodgers aren't in midseason form yet. Or maybe they are.

Sunday, the Angels swept the Freeway Series with a 2-1 win. The only encouraging note for the Dodgers was the fact they scored double the average number of runs they scored in the first two Freeway Series games.

Otherwise:

--Angel pitchers recorded 11 strikeouts. For the Dodgers Sunday, baseball was not a contact sport.

--Steve Sax, the hottest Dodger of 1986, had two base hits but got thrown out thrice on the bases, twice trying to steal and once after over-rounding third base.

Adding injury to insult, Sax fouled a ball off his own leg. And probably nicked himself shaving.

--The Dodger Stadium PA man announced Angel catcher Darrell Miller as "Reggie Miller," who is Darrell's brother. I know it wasn't Reggie back there, because when he handled two strikeouts, Darrell did not say, "In your face." However, he might have said, "In your strike zone."

--A hive of bees in the Dodger bullpen rendered the area too dangerous for warmups, so Dodger relievers had to warm up in the Angels' pen. This is the first time in recent memory the Dodgers honestly have been able to brag about having a honey of a bullpen.

--Even after six weeks of spring training, one day away from their opener, the Dodgers still weren't ready to announce their starting center fielder.

"I made the decision, but I don't want to announce it," Tom Lasorda said. "Have a hamburger. These are the greatest hamburgers in the world. They're from Acme (name changed by me to avoid a plug) Burgers. Mention them in your column, they take real good care of us."

A special ceremony will be held in Houston this morning to reveal the Dodgers' starting center fielder. Bette Midler and Chevy Chase will tell jokes and open the envelope. Unless it's Paul Newman, the winner will be present to accept the award.

Bet on rookie Mike Ramsey, great glove, questionable bat. Bet against Tim Raines, who has as much chance of signing with the Dodgers as does Claude Rains.

--A Dodger ballboy fumbled a handoff to home plate umpire Lee Weyer, scattering baseballs like Easter eggs. I know it wasn't Weyer's fault, because when I ducked into the umpire's locker room after the game, Weyer was performing card tricks. These are not the hands of a fumbler.

--For something like the 400th day in a row, Pedro Guerrero did not slide. He did hit a home run, but what will happen if and when Pedro really needs to slide? What if the Dodgers have to make an emergency exit from an airplane, down one of those inflatable slides? Will Pedro simply leap off the wing?

--The Dodgers still insist on conceding Opening Day to the Astros. How else would you explain the Dodgers not going with their ace pitcher, as dictated by a century of baseball tradition? Are they saving Fernando for the playoffs?

Fernando Valenzuela on the bench on Opening Day is not a debatable bit of strategy or psychology. No, to use a famous Lasorda line, "It's a bleepin' crime."

--On the plus side, the Dodgers still have the best postgame clubhouse spread in organized sports. Sunday's apres -baseball snack included pizza, chicken, hamburgers, some really cute Baklava (a Middle Eastern pastry), two or three other exotic entrees and a bathtub-size salad, with anchovies, all from those fine folks at Acme Burgers.

Also, as a backup, they had a lasagna baked by the mother of a local radio personality. The Dodgers buzzed the buffet table like a swarm of bullpen bumblebees.

Yon Angels, meanwhile, have that lean and hungry look.

For example, Manager Gene Mauch sticks regular DH Brian Downing in left field for the Sunday afternoon stroll, a one-game cameo role fill-in. Downing robs Len Matuszek of a double with a belly-flop catch that erased five feet of the left-field foul line.

Not that Downing wants his left-field job back. Any interest in playing out there, Brian?

"None," he said.

You're sure?

"One hundred percent. Positive."

Still, you have to like a team whose DH is willing to lay his life on the line for a fly ball in a practice game.

The Angels are simply solid. The only mistake the Anaheim front office made in the off-season, aside from not bidding on Tim Raines, was not kicking in to the Oral (Stayin' Alive) Roberts fund, which would have obligated Oral to pay a visit to the Angel pitchers, who have come down with everything but Dutch Elm disease.

Otherwise, the Angels are solid as a rock. Look at the catcher position. Butch Wynegar is starting there. He threw out two Dodger base stealers Sunday, and he's hitting just under .300 this spring.

The backup catcher is Darrell Miller, who only hit .423 this spring, about 77 points shy of the batting average he needed to rate a shot at the starting job behind the plate.

In fact, Darrell's batting average was only slightly lower than Reggie's shooting percentage at UCLA, although Reggie is more of a long-ball threat.

Spring training results, I realize, mean almost nothing. However, this is the first time in history the Angels have swept a three-game Freeway Series. And the format this time was nine-man tag team, two falls out of three, loser leaves town.

The Dodgers were last seen catching a plane to Houston. For now, Greater Los Angeles is the city of the Angels.

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