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3 up, 3 down: Angels 8, Dodgers 5

ANAHEIM -- Perhaps the Angels simply wanted to give their rivals up the Interstate 5 freeway something to get excited about early in the game. After all, the Dodgers had only scored two runs in their last three games when they finally exploded for five in the first two innings against the Angels on Friday night to take an early 5-0 lead.

While the start of the game was a sight for sore eyes in the Dodgers’ dugout, the ending was a familiar one for the Angels and Dodgers, two teams going in opposite directions to begin the summer.

The Angels’ 8-5 win over the Dodgers on Friday was the Angels’ 21st win in their last 28 games as they now have an MLB-best 32-18 record since April 28. Meanwhile the loss was the Dodgers’ fourth straight, one off their season-high.

The Good:

The comeback. By the time many fans, who had been stuck in Friday afternoon traffic, made it to their seats in the bottom of the first inning, the Angels were already down 3-0 and would soon be down 5-0 in the top of the second inning before the Angels mounted a comeback. The Angels responded by scoring three runs in the second and three more in the third to take a 6-5 lead. The final two runs of the comeback came on a squeeze play by Bobby Wilson which scored Erick Aybar and was followed by a Mike Trout home run to left centerfield. Trout’s homer brought the 44,545 in attendance, the largest regular-season crowd in the reconfigured Angel Stadium, to their feet.

T&T. There is no question the reason the Angels have an MLB-best 33-18 record since April 28 is because of Trout. It is no coincidence the team’s turnaround began as soon as he was brought up on, you guessed it, April 28. Mark Trumbo, however, deserves some credit too. On Friday night Trout and Trumbo combined to go 2-for-7 with three runs and one homer.

Solid bullpen. Perhaps the unsung heroes of the Angels’ turnaround this season have been the relief pitchers in their bullpen. In their first 32 games the Angels’ bullpen was 1-6-5 with a 4.70 ERA. In their last 39 games they are 6-2-10 with a 1.99 ERA. On Friday night, the relief pitchers for the Angels took over for Dan Haren in the sixth inning and allowed only three hits and no runs to seal the Angels’ 21st win in their last 28 games.

The Bad:

Shaky start. To say Haren had a shaky start Friday night would be putting it mildly. Haren gave up five runs in the first two innings and finally took a seat after pitching five innings. Although he settled himself after the first two innings and was credited with the win, he still gave up five earned runs and nine hits and had a 4.24 ERA.

Not there yet. There is no question Albert Pujols, much like the Angels, is light years ahead of where he was at the start of the season. He is still, however, nowhere near where the team needs him to be and where it looked like he was headed two weeks ago. Pujols only has five hits in his last 28 at-bats and was 1-for-4 on Friday night with no runs. His current slump has to be especially disconcerting considering he has been facing National League pitching he is more familiar with.

Howie you doing? You won’t find this stat in the game notes but it is entirely possible that Howie Kendrick leads the league in having bats flying into the stands. It happened again Friday night as he has had made life far harder on fans sitting on the baselines than infielders over the past week. After going 0-for-3 on Friday he only has two hits in his last 13 at-bats.