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Game Day: Serious series for Dodgers, Angels

Editor’s note: This is the Monday, May 8, 2023 edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

The Dodgers won an early-season series against the team to beat in their division. Now the Angels will try to do the same. More about that, after other headlines.

• As the Lakers take a 2-1 series lead into tonight’s game, columnist Jim Alexander says Darvin Ham is removing any doubt that the rookie head coach can match wits with the Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr.

• D’Angelo Russell scored the Lakers’ first 11 points in the Game 3 win, more proof he was the vital pickup at the trade deadline.

• The Ducks have the best chance to win tonight’s NHL draft lottery and the right to pick 17-year-old Connor Bedard.

• Another clever goal by Alyssa Thompson helped Angel City FC to its first win at BMO Stadium this season.

• And the USC women’s beach volleyball team won its third straight NCAA championship as twins Audrey and Nicole Nourse finished off UCLA.

It’s a testing part of the schedule for both L.A. area baseball teams. The Dodgers visited the San Diego Padres over the weekend and will host them next weekend, the teams’ first meetings since the Padres’ playoff win and high spending shifted the tectonic plates under the National League West. The Angels host the Houston Astros starting tonight, the first meeting of the season with a team that has beaten them in the final standings for eight seasons in a row and remains favored to win the American League West despite a slow start.

The Dodgers were down to their final out against the Padres before Mookie Betts tied the score with a two-run home run and rookies Michael Busch and James Outman came through in the 10th to win the game, 5-2, and the series 2-1.

It wasn’t a clean performance by the Dodgers, and they weren’t overselling its significance in comments before the series and after Sunday night’s victory. But they had shuffled their starting rotation for the Padres, and maybe downplaying Padres showdowns is part of the mind games. This was a win to remember.

It keeps the Dodgers (21-14) in first place, the Padres (18-17) three games back in third, behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.

There’s less intrigue about the three-game Astros-Angels series opening tonight in Anaheim; Shohei Ohtani starts Tuesday against Framber Valdez. The Astros (17-17) are third behind the Texas Rangers and Angels (19-16). Both teams are coming off rough weekends, the Angels battered at home by the Rangers, and both are weakened by health issues.

But becoming competitive with the Astros is key to any hope of the Angels getting to the playoffs in the Ohtani-Mike Trout era, however many more months or years that era lasts.

The first month-plus of the season is about surprises. For the Angels and Dodgers, it also has been about confirming a preseason impression: The Angels would be deeper than in recent years, able to withstand injuries more easily, and the Dodgers would not be as deep, crossing their fingers that shortstop Gavin Lux’s injury is the last major loss.

So far, the Angels have more than withstood the days when Ohtani or Trout is out of the lineup, going 5-0 and averaging 5.2 runs in those games. So far, the Dodgers have felt the sting when Betts, Max Muncy and/or Will Smith doesn’t start (Freddie Freeman hasn’t missed a game), going 7-10; they’re 8-1 since Smith’s return from a concussion.

The long season will bring more challenges like those.

And it will bring more opportunities like these Dodgers-Padres and Angels-Astros series.

Get the latest news by bookmarking the Dodgers and Angels news pages here and here, signing up for the free Inside the Dodgers and Angels in the Inbox newsletters here, and following beat writers Bill Plunkett (@BillPlunkettOCR) and Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) on Twitter.

TODAY

The Lakers are 4-0 in the playoffs at Crypto.com Arena as they seek a 3-1 lead over the Warriors in their best-of-seven series (7 p.m., TNT).

The Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin faces the Milwaukee Brewers, whom he has allowed one run in 12 innings, going 2-0 (4:40 p.m., SNLA).

The Angels have played .357 ball against the Astros since the start of 2015 as the teams start their season series (6:38 p.m., BSW).

BETWEEN THE LINES

The Angels had a bad weekend and are slight underdogs (between +104 and +110) tonight in Anaheim, but they catch the Astros with four losses in five games and missing injured Jose Altuve and pitchers Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy.

280 CHARACTERS

“Remember when the Angels won 5 in a row? Seems like so long ago.” – Jeff Fletcher tweeting after errors by Anthony Rendon and Matt Thaiss on the same play led to two Rangers runs yesterday.

1,000 WORDS

In step: Angel City FC defender Megan Reid, right, just beats Kansas City Current forward Kizer Cece to the ball during the L.A. club’s 3-2 victory on Sunday night at BMO Stadium. The photo is by contributor Raul Romero Jr.

YOUR TURN

Thanks for reading. Send suggestions, comments and questions by email at kmodesti@scng.com and via Twitter @KevinModesti.

Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

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