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Freeway Series is homecoming for Scioscia
Freeway Series is homecoming for Scioscia
By Lyle Spencer
LOS ANGELES -- The Angels and Dodgers. In Southern California, the only rivalry that compares is UCLA vs. USC.
They meet this weekend in Interleague Play, opening at Dodger Stadium, with the Dodgers hoping to win a season series against their former catcher, Mike Scioscia, and his troupe for the first time since 2006.
Something new has been added to their mix this season. Garret Anderson, arguably the most productive player in Angels history, will face his former club in a regular-season game for the first time if he gets a call from Dodgers manager Joe Torre.
"It was weird seeing him in a Braves uniform watching on TV, and it was weird seeing him [in Dodger blue] in Spring Training," Scioscia said. "He's in a good place right now. He still likes to play.
"There are a lot of guys who were very influential on building this organization -- Tim Salmon, Troy Percival, Garret. Those are guys who went through the hard times and persevered. Out of all those guys, Garret's consistency is something fans will remember. He was a superstar. Sometimes he wasn't put in that status, but he was."
Now in a backup role with the Dodgers, Anderson is the Angels' franchise leader in games played, hits, doubles, runs scored, runs batted in and total bases.
The Angels and Dodgers have split the Freeway Series in each of the past two seasons after the Angels dominated in 2007, taking five of six. The Dodgers claimed four of six in 2005, but before that, you have to go all the way back to 1999 -- the year before Scioscia landed in Anaheim -- to find a season series won by the Dodgers.
The Angels were 5-9 in the series before Scioscia took the reins and are 33-21 since the big man began calling the shots.
HALOS IN INTERLEAGUE PLAY
Scioscia brought several other former Dodgers players with him when he moved to Anaheim, including coaches Ron Roenicke, Mickey Hatcher and Alfredo Griffin. While Scioscia always downplays the angle of getting the upper hand on his original organization, Roenicke admits that there's something special about seeing Dodger Blue -- especially in Chavez Ravine.
"That's where it all started," said Roenicke, a former outfielder who is now serving as Scioscia's bench coach. "My history is a little different from Mike's. I grew up in Southern California, coming to Dodger Stadium. When I walk on that field, there's always something more involved. It's special.
"When you are with an organization as a player or a coach, there's always a different emotion when you come back. But all the people who were there when we were there are gone. Mike was so tied to the O'Malley family. He went through the Fox people, and they're gone. So, it's different there now."
Like Roenicke, Angels ace Jered Weaver grew up in Southern California, in Simi Valley, and attended games at Dodger Stadium as a kid. Coming back is always something special for Weaver, and it has been evident in his performances.
Weaver, scheduled to start the series finale after Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir work the first two games for the Angels, owns a dazzling 0.55 ERA in three career appearances at Dodger Stadium but is 1-1. The loss came on June 28, 2008, when Weaver didn't allow a hit across six innings but suffered a 1-0 defeat while combining with Jose Arredondo on an eight-inning no-hitter.
The Angels kicked off Interleague Play losing two of three in St. Louis May 22-24, but they've kicked it in gear since then, finally putting together the various elements that have made them kings of the American League West in five of the past six seasons.
The Majors' best Interleague team last season with their 14-4 record, the Angels are 39-18 against the National League since 2008, and their staff ERA since 2005 in Interleague Play is surpassed only by the Twins.
After this series, the Angels will resume Interleague Play with three home dates against the Brewers (June 14-16), three road tests at Chicago's Wrigley Field (June 18-20), three home games against the Dodgers (June 22-24) and a weekend series June 25-27 at Angel Stadium against the Rockies.
The trip to Chicago's North Side will be a first in franchise history. The Angels lost two of three against the Cubs in 2004 at Angel Stadium.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.