Are we seeing a World Series preview this weekend when the Los Angeles Dodgers trek southwest along I-5 into Anaheim to meet the Angels?
It certainly isn't a matchup that FOX Sports would like to see in the Fall Classic since it would take away a big chunk of the viewers east of the Mississippi River. Then again, maybe that's all the more reason to root for the Dodgers and Angels to meet in the end.
Whether they meet in October or not, this weekend set at the Big A remains critical to both squads as the interleague portion of the 2012 regular season schedule comes to an end. The Dodgers begin the series with the best record in the National League (42-28) and nursing a 4-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The Angels (38-32) have been among the hottest teams in the majors the past four weeks, turning around a slow start with a 20-7 stretch that finds them five games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Two of those recent wins for the Halos came at the expense of the Dodgers when the clubs played three at Chavez Ravine earlier this month. Oddly enough, the Angels were favored in all three despite the Dodgers owning the best home record in the bigs at 24-12 as they continue a 9-game road trip along the left coast that started in Oakland this week and ends in San Francisco next week.
All three games at Dodger Stadium went 'under' the total, bringing that trend to six of the last seven clashes failing to reach the scoreboard hurdle. The Angels also continued their recent winning ways in this matchup as Mike Scioscia's squad has taken 11 of the last 14 overall, a string that includes four of the last six played in Anaheim.
The weekend gets underway Friday night (10:05 p.m. ET) with a matchup of right-handers on the mound. Chad Billingsley takes the ball for the Dodgers and will face Dan Haren who is a 165 favorite on the Don Best odds screen. Friday's total is 7-7½ depending which baseball betting window you go to.
Billingsley missed the Angels when they were in LA previously, and maybe that was for the better considering his track record vs. the Halos. Six career starts have netted the Dodgers just one win, though Billingsley's 4.10 ERA (including some relief outings) is respectable.
Haren's turn in the rotation also didn't come up in the June 11-13 series, but he has seen the Dodgers often over his career that includes his days in Oakland and Arizona. The big righty out of Pepperdine has made 15 previous starts against the Dodgers with a lifetime 3.27 ERA.
The teams reconvene Saturday afternoon (4:15 p.m. local time) for a contest that will among the MLB on FOX regional broadcasts with television coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. (ET). Chris Capuano will get the ball from Dodgers manager Don Mattingly with Ervin Santana slated to pitch for the home team. Very early numbers put a -135 price on the Halos with a 7½-run total.
Santana is coming off his best performance of the season by far, a 1-hit, complete game shutout against the Diamondbacks last Saturday. The outing followed successive starts in which he allowed seven runs to both the Rockies and Mariners in a combined 10-1/3 innings. Santana's offense bailed him out in the assignment at Coors Field with enough runs to offset the right-hander's performance, and get the Angels a win as +110 underdogs.
Both of his last two starts vs. the Dodgers have gone into Santana's win column, though one bat that has given him trouble over the years is Andre Ethier (5-for-15, 1 HR).
Capuano is also coming off a solid effort with a season-high 12 strikeouts over eight innings last Sunday vs. the White Sox. The southpaw allowed just one run, but didn't factor into the decision as the Dodgers needed 10 innings to post the 2-1 triumph. He faced the Angels in Los Angeles on June 11 and was charged with two runs during his five innings of work. Capuano also registered a no-decision in that tilt which ended 3-2 in the Angels' favor.
The series comes to an end Sunday afternoon (3:35 p.m. ET) when Aaron Harang squares off against Garrett Richards of the Angels. Harang limited the Halos to two unearned runs on June 12 in the only game the Dodgers won in that series. Richards opposed Capuano in the June 11 game and was charged with two runs (one earned) in five innings. This will be his fourth start of the campaign after being called up at the end of May, and the Angels have won his three previous assignments.