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The bottom half

May 11, 2008|Bill Shaikin

Dodgers vs. Angels: This is one of the favorite weeks of the year for Angels fans, since the Dodgers traditionally get whipped in their annual weekend visit to Anaheim. The Angels are 21-10 against the Dodgers in Anaheim since interleague play started in 1997, including a sweep last year in which the Angels outscored the Dodgers, 19-4. And talk about not-so-teary nostalgia: When the teams opened the Freeway Series in Anaheim last year, the designated hitters were Olmedo Saenz for the Dodgers and Shea Hillenbrand for the Angels.

Dodgers at Angels, Friday through next Sunday at Angel Stadium.

Blue Jays vs. Phillies: It's been 15 years since Joe Carter won the World Series with that walk-off home run off Mitch Williams, and that means it's been 15 years since either of these teams won a playoff game. Toronto hasn't even been back to the playoffs since then, eclipsed by the Yankees and Red Sox. The Phillies got back last year, then got swept by the Rockies. Check out Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, who leads the majors in home runs, and the Jays' Shaun Marcum (4-2, 2.59), who has held opponents to a .162 average and struck out 44 in 48 innings.

The week ahead

Blue Jays at Phillies, Friday through next Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia.

A's vs. Braves: Oakland rolls on in an alleged rebuilding season, a tribute to another fine job by General Manager Billy Beane. But this series offers a reminder that even Beane can't get 'em all right -- and that longtime Atlanta General Manager John Schuerholz traded well too. When Beane split his three aces in 2004, he traded Mark Mulder to the Cardinals for Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and Daric Barton, a rout for the A's. But Beane also traded Tim Hudson to Atlanta for Dan Meyer, Charles Thomas and Juan Cruz, a rout for the Braves. Hudson (5-2, 2.90) is expected to make his first career start against Oakland on Saturday.

A's at Braves, Friday through next Sunday at Turner Field, Atlanta.

Minor leaguers of the week

Dodgers: James McDonald, rhp

This might be hard to believe now, with all the Koufax-level hype that surrounds Clayton Kershaw, and with Kershaw lined up for a possible major league debut on Saturday in Anaheim, but at the end of last season the Dodgers considered McDonald closer to the majors than Kershaw. Here's a curiosity, though: McDonald and Kershaw have combined for 13 starts at double-A Jacksonville, with one victory. Kershaw is 0-3 with a 1.08 ERA, McDonald 1-1 with a 4.19 ERA. McDonald, 23, who grew up in Long Beach, pitched his best game this season last Tuesday, throwing seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and no walks in a 2-0 victory over Carolina.

Angels: Sean O'Sullivan, rhp

O'Sullivan gets a tip of the cap for his service to the Angels as a caddy for John Lackey. When the Angels sent their ace to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga for three rehabilitation starts, Lackey bumped O'Sullivan, the scheduled starter on those days, into the bullpen. O'Sullivan followed Lackey on each of those days, pitching four shutout innings last week against Lancaster. O'Sullivan, 20, is back in the rotation now. He went 10-7, 2.22 at Class-A Cedar Rapids last season, when he was the Angels' minor league pitcher of the year, and he's 4-2, 4.88 this season.

-- Bill Shaikin

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