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Yasiel Puig homers again as Dodgers take Freeway Series opener

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Yasiel Puig homered for his third straight spring game on Sunday.
Photo credit: LA Dodgers

Home runs by Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig in the seventh inning provided the winning margin for the Dodgers, who captured the opening salvo of the Freeway Series with a 4-2 win over the Angels on Sunday night at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Taylor and Puig each homered off 25-year-old minor league right-hander Osmer Morales. Taylor on the night was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.

Puig’s ball to right center was the first to take advantage of the new, lower right field wall, landing above the eight-foot mark of the yellow line but well below the previous 18-foot dimensions. There was some confusion initially about whether the ball was a home run, as Puig even slid into second base.

Puig has homered in three consecutive games and in his last four games is a very convenient 7-for-11 (.636) with two doubles to go with those home runs. He hit third on Sunday for a second straight game as well. The third spot in the batting order is up for grabs with Justin Turner out, and on days Cody Bellinger doesn’t move up from cleanup that third spot could see quite a bit of Puig or Matt Kemp.

Just like with Kemp earlier in the week, Roberts understandably didn’t want to commit to a single lineup, but noted that Puig (like Kemp) is an option. Per J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:

“Can I say right now that he’s going to hit third every day? Absolutely not,” Roberts said. “But I want to give him a little bit of a runway to show that he deserves that opportunity.”

Kenta Maeda was effective in his five innings, throwing 67 pitches while striking out five and walking none. He allowed a pair of runs, both on solo home runs.

The unexpected

Albert Pujols was caught stealing in what was an aborted attempt on a strikeout in the second inning, nailed 2-6-3 on the putout. That in and of itself wasn’t too surprising given the myriad of foot problems and injuries the future Hall of Famer has dealt with in recent years. But what was surprising was finding out that in the last two seasons combined Pujols stole seven bases without getting caught.

The caught stealing was nice timing for Maeda, who allowed a home run to his next batter faced when Zack Cozart lined a ball down the left field line and over the fence for the game’s first run.

The expected

The Angels’ second run came when Mike Trout went down and got a curveball from Maeda, depositing it over the center field wall for the Angels’ second home run of the night.

But also the unexpected for Trout: J.T. Chargois struck him out looking in the sixth inning, just the third time in 53 plate appearances that Trout struck out this spring (Hyun-jin Ryu got the first, on Thursday at Camelback Ranch).

The new frontier

The revamped Angels scoreboard is tracking non-pitching-change mound visits, which this year is limited to six per team for the first nine innings each game.

The WTF?

With two outs in the sixth inning, Ian Kinsler was on second base and on a strike to Justin Upton thought the inning was over and started jogging toward the third base dugout, even taking his helmet off along the way. It was strike two.

The Dodgers were so stunned that he didn’t even draw a throw and Kinsler reached third safely. That’s a stolen base. Maybe the best stolen base.

So to sum up, this game saw a home run in which the batter slid into second base, and a stolen base while jogging to third base without even a throw.

Up next

The Freeway Series shifts to Dodger Stadium for the next two nights. Rich Hill starts Monday in Los Angeles, a 7:10 p.m. Pt start, with Matt Shoemaker on the hill for the Angels.