ANAHEIM -- Five days earlier, Dan Haren said he was “embarrassed” by how he was pitching and felt bad for Dodger fans and the other 24 players on his team who had to watch it.
On Wednesday night, the only people who might have been embarrassed were Angels hitters, who were flummoxed by Haren in a 2-1 Dodgers win at Angel Stadium. Haren, who had put up a 10.03 ERA in his previous five starts, pitched his best game since the end of June, helping calm the Dodgers’ concerns about their pitching depth.
How it happened: Pitching in the stadium where he had been so good for 2 ½ years as a member of the Angels, Haren had a throwback look. He returned to his old delivery, in which he freezes for a second or two with his leg in the air. He also produced throwback results. The Angels couldn’t get on base until Hank Conger pushed a single to left field in the sixth inning. It could have gone bad quickly for Haren after pinch hitter David Freese followed with a single to center, but Yasiel Puig made a perfect throw to third to nail Conger.
The Dodgers didn’t produce much offense -- they haven’t scored much for Haren in more than a month -- but this time he didn’t need it. Matt Kemp had a solo home run and Andre Ethier laced an RBI double, but it was an otherwise quiet night at the plate for everybody involved.
Hits: Shortstop Corey Seager hit his first Double-A home run Wednesday night. He’s also batting .339. Why is that relevant? Seager was one of the three elite prospects the Dodgers essentially labeled as “untouchable” in trade talks to acquire a starting pitcher before July 31. The Dodgers’ inaction had looked worrisome after Haren and Josh Beckett had a couple more poor outings and Paul Maholm went down with a season-ending knee injury, but Wednesday was one of those nights that made standing pat seem like not such a bad idea.
Misses: Should Adrian Gonzalez remain the Dodgers’ No. 3 hitter? On one hand, there is logic to leaving him there, since it gives the Dodgers’ lineup a lefty-righty-lefty-righty start, but otherwise it’s looking like a shaky idea. Gonzalez is 1-for-17 this month. Beyond that, the No. 3 spot is, in part, a table-setter portion of the lineup and Gonzalez, to put it kindly, lacks speed. His lumbering ways unraveled promising first and second innings. Howie Kendrick made a diving stop in shallow right field, got up and threw out Gonzalez to prevent a run the first time, and he got him again the next inning on a little tapper that would have been an infield hit for many players.
Stat of the game: Kemp hit eight home runs in his first 98 games. He has hit six in his past nine games. Kemp took Matt Shoemaker deep to lead off the second inning.
Up next: The teams finish off the four-game home-and-away series at 7:05 p.m. in Anaheim. Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 3.39 ERA) goes for the Dodgers, while lefty C.J. Wilson (8-7, 4.74) pitches for the Angels.