Hanley homers twice behind solid Greinke
LA comes out swinging in Freeway Series opener at Dodger Stadium
LOS ANGELES -- The spring days get shorter, the stretching gets longer.
"I felt like I could have gone another inning," Dodgers starter Zack Greinke said following six mostly brisk Freeway Series innings on Thursday night.
"I think it's been the longest Spring Training for me," Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez said, eager to move on to the regular season following two impressive home runs in the Angels' 7-5 win in Dodger Stadium.
For the Angels, Hector Santiago's fifth spring outing was one last look as manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher watched pitching performances these past few weeks that were far superior to what they endured a year ago.
Santiago, acquired from the White Sox over the winter, is expected to slot into the Angels' rotation behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and ahead of Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs. He threw 104 pitches over six innings, wobbling a couple of times, giving up runs in four different innings. But he also stranded six runners. Mostly, it was Ramirez he couldn't contain.
Appearing to be far closer to one piece this spring than the injury-plagued Ramirez has been in the past few seasons, he just missed a Santiago pitch in the first, lining out hard to center field. Then he blasted an opposite-field homer in the third (a changeup) and then connected on a long homer over the walkway in left field in Dodger Stadium in the fifth (fastball).
Ramirez said he was looking for the change in the third because the pitch he just missed in the first was a change.
Then in the fifth?
"Before the at-bat, I told [Clayton] Kershaw he was going to throw me a fastball in right here," Ramirez said. "It's all adjustments and getting good pitches to hit."
Ramirez was highly successful in both departments.
As for Santiago, he wasn't all that displeased.
"Two pitches to a great hitter," he said. "Otherwise, I feel good about going into the season.
"For the most part, I think I had good command. Two pitches, and go from there. This is probably one of the better teams I'm going to face. I think they were good pitches ... I think it was just a case of where I fell behind."
Meantime, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was giving Greinke 85-90 pitches for the night, preferably spread out over at least six innings. Greinke delivered 78 in six and, by the end, his early-spring calf injury was a distant memory.
"I got tired last game," Greinke said. "Around 65 pitches, I was getting tired.
"Today, facing a Major League [lineup], I had a little extra energy."
The Angels popped for four runs to turn the game after Greinke had departed, in the seventh, on Howie Kendrick's two-run single followed by two more when a double steal created some excitement. Dodger catcher Drew Butera's throw to second struck Erick Aybar on the leg and bounced away, allowing both Taylor Lindsay and Aybar to race home.
Extra energy? Following nearly six weeks of spring, with the curtain just hours now from being lifted for the regular season, the extra energy is becoming more and more evident.
Said Ramirez: "I can't wait."
Up next: The Dodgers and Angels continue the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium on Friday night at 7:10 PT, and fans can watch live for free on MLB.TV.
Scott Miller is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.