Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Dodgers at Angels

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With the Dodgers and Angels less than two hours away from first pitch, here’s a few things to consider:

On the bump:

– John Lackey (2-2, 6.10) takes the hill for the Angels. Lackey enjoyed
his best start of the season in his last outing against the Giants,
fanning a season-high 10 while allowing three runs over seven innings.
He’s been shaky since missing the first six weeks of the season due to
inflammation in his pitching elbow, allowing 52 hits in 38 1/3 innings
(.335 BAA). Lefties are batting .422 against him thus far.

– Clayton Kershaw (3-5, 4.13) pitches for the Dodgers. Kershaw
blanked the Athletics over 5 2/3 innings in his last start, but
suffered a no-decision. He is winless in his last three starts, dating
back to May 27. The 21-year-old southpaw has a 70/42 K/BB ratio in 69
2/3 innings pitched this season.

Martin ends drought:

– Russell Martin connected for his first home run of the season in
the 6-4 win on Saturday night. The third-inning blast ended a 217
at-bat drought.

Figgins red-hot in June:

– Chone Figgins leads the majors with a .403 batting average since May 15.

Manny Who:

– The Dodgers are an NL-best 24-16 since Manny Ramirez was suspended.

Fantasy angle:

– Juan Rivera is batting .431/.508/.902 with six homers and nine RBI against left-handers this season

– Jonathan Broxton returned to the mound on Saturday after missing
three games with a sore toe. He allowed his first home run of the
season to Gary Matthews Jr., but still managed to notch his 16th save.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.