ANAHEIM -- The final interleague series of the 2011 season is upon us, and with it comes two things: talk of the future of interleague play, baseball-wide, and talk of the Angels' uncanny sustained success against the National League.
The Angels are 11-4 in interleague play this season, tied for tops in the majors with the New York Yankees. Over the last five years, they are a remarkable 60-27 (.690) against NL teams. In manager Mike Scioscia's 11 seasons on the job, the Angels are a best-in-baseball 130-83 (.610) against the NL, sporting a losing record in only two of those seasons.
What does Scioscia attribute that to?
Nothing, he says.
"I really don't put much stock in that," Scioscia said before Friday's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Angel Stadium. "It's a baseball game, whether it's interleague or intra-league or intra-division, whatever it is.
"As far as winning or losing and how our track record's been, it really becomes cyclical because the players change so much."
Scioscia did concede one reason the Angels have typically succeeded against the National League under his leadership might be the structure of their everyday lineup -- more specifically, they've often not employed a traditional designated hitter, allowing them to more seamlessly transition to road games at NL parks without missing a big part of their lineup.
As for the broad topic of interleague play as rumors float about the eventual evening-up of the two leagues, Scioscia seems to think change is coming -- soon -- to the current formation of the American and National leagues and corresponding interleague play.
The biggest immediate issue is simple: There are 16 NL teams and 14 AL teams, because of a six-team NL Central and a four-team AL West.
"I think there's eventually going to be some schedule reform, and I think if you're gonna reform the schedule there's probably going to be some changes to interleague," he said. "I think there has to be some re-alignment to get the divisional component of baseball equal -- I think that'll happen sometime in the near future.
"There have been some proposed schedules about adding some more interleague games, but we'll see how it goes. I think there are going to be a lot of things that are discussed before anything's decided on any realignment or schedule changes."
* Scioscia said he will not engage in any sort of campaigning for the All-Star candidacy of right-hander Jered Weaver, who's sporting the best ERA of any starting pitcher in the majors. Weaver is a sure bet to make the team, and he could also start the July 12 game, which would fall right in line with his pitching schedule.
Asked who else merits consideration from the Angels' roster, Scioscia mentioned Dan Haren, Scott Downs, Jordan Walden, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar.
* Former L.A. left-hander Fernando Valenzuela, now a member of the Dodgers' Spanish-speaking broadcast team, will throw out the first pitch tonight at Angel Stadium, with Scioscia scheduled to serve as catcher in a repeat of their days with the Dodgers from 1980 to 1990.
"If I squat, it's not gonna be by design," Scioscia joked when asked if he would get set normally behind the plate and give Valenzuela a sign, just as he used to. "If I go down, have a crane ready to get me up.
"That's the best way I can put it."
Here are the lineups for Friday's 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Dodgers:
1. Tony Gwynn Jr. LF
2. Casey Blake 3B
3. Andre Ethier RF
4. Matt Kemp CF
5. James Loney 1B
6. Aaron Miles 2B
7. Trent Oeltjen DH
8. A.J. Ellis C
9. Dee Gordon SS
1. Maicer Izturis 3B
2. Torii Hunter RF
3. Bobby Abreu DH
4. Vernon Wells LF
5. Howie Kendrick 2B
6. Erick Aybar SS
7. Mark Trumbo 1B
8. Hank Conger C
9. Peter Bourjos CF