A pair of first-place teams open a three game series in Angels Stadium in Anaheim tonight, each heavy in pitching and light in the batting department, and led by two quality manager, former Dodger Mike Scioscia, and Grady Little.
After a number of years of trashtalk between the clubs and their supporters, the series is only a real test of the strength of the two Southern California clubs who are currently in first-place.
"That's what it is for us," Dodgers manager Grady Little the Los Angeles Daily News. "We have a lot of respect for that team, just as we do for every team. But we also never lose sight of what we are able to do on the ball field, too."
Each team enters the series third in its respective league in team ERA and fifth in batting average. The Dodgers are 14th in the 16-team National League in home runs, the Angels 13th in the 14-team American League. The Dodgers have been held to three runs or less 16 times this season, the Angels 19 times. Each team is near the top of its respective league in stolen bases.
The Dodgers have won only one inter-league road game in the past two seasons, taking the opener of last year's series at Angel Stadium.
The pitching matchups:
Friday Brad Penny (50, 1.39) vs Ervin Santana (205, 5.51.)
Saturday Mark Hendrickson (2-0, 2.61) vs Jered Weaver (2-3, 3,62).
Sunday Brett Tomko (1-4, 597) vs Kelvim Escobar (4-2, 3.35).
Dodger Blue Notes-- Jason Stark of ESPN reported, "Remember last winter, when Brad Penny's name was all over the trade-rumor circuit? Well, the Dodgers fielded offers but never came close to dealing Penny. And it's a good thing. He has ripped off eight straight quality starts, has given up one run or none in six of them and leads the league in ERA (1.39). "He told us he didn't want to go anyplace else," said GM Ned Colletti. "He wanted the opportunity to stay. And you know what? It's tough to get rid of guys who can win 15 to 20 games, and pitch 200 innings." Actually, Penny has won more than 10 games just twice in seven seasons, has topped 14 once and hasn't worked 200 innings since 2001. But if it all fits together this year, he can't beat the timing. He's a free agent this winter. "