ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Starting pitchers are quickly becoming a sore spot rather than a strength for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Before they lost to the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 in their final exhibition game Saturday night at Angel Stadium, the Dodgers placed ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the 15-day disabled list with a swollen muscle in his back, forcing the coaching staff to push back his second start of the season for a second time this week.
Dan Haren has one of the arms that will be counted on to help keep the pitching staff humming along -- both in the coming week and once Kershaw returns. However, he appeared anything but worthy against the Angels, giving up three doubles and two home runs in just two innings of work.
Haren’s numbers have inflated significantly in the last two seasons, a cause for concern even before Saturday night. After posting a 16-10 record and a 3.17 ERA in his first full season with the Angels in 2011, he took a step back with the same club the following year, finishing 12-13 with a 4.33 mark.
The Angels chose not to pick up his $15.5-million option for 2013 and bought him out instead, allowing Haren to sign with the Washington Nationals. His numbers slipped even further back East, but the Dodgers, hoping he’ll flash some of his past, signed him for one year at $10 million.
His appearance against the Angels started harmless enough, as Kole Calhoun grounded out to start the game. But Mike Trout followed with a single up the middle, Albert Pujols doubled into the left-field corner to drive in Trout and, one out later, David Freese doubled into the same corner for a 2-0 lead.
With a new defense behind him to start the bottom of the second, Haren allowed Howie Kendrick to lead off with a double, then walked No. 9 hitter Erick Aybar, putting runners on the corner with one out.
Calhoun then drilled a three-run homer down the right-field line, and Trout followed with a solo shot to left, putting the Angels ahead 6-0.
The long ball has always been a problem for Haren, but it has been more prevalent in recent years. Haren gave up the second-most home runs in the National League last season (28) -- the same number he surrendered the year before, in seven more innings.
There were some bright spots for the Dodgers, however.
Chone Figgins, trying to make a Major League roster after being passed over last season, delivered a bases-loaded, two-out single on a 3-2 pitch in the third inning, driving in two runs to cut the deficit to 6-2.
And the relief pitching locked in following the second inning, shutting out the Angels over the last six innings. Their performance was even more impressive considering the Angels didn’t replace their starters until the top of the eighth.