ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Keibert Ruiz took his first swing in the big leagues and watched his drive sail down the right field line. His Los Angeles Dodgers teammates reacted with a joyous collective scream while the ball ricocheted around the stands beyond right field.
Ruiz’s magic moment was the latest in a season full of fun for the deep, dominant Dodgers.
The Los Angeles Angels have much less to celebrate after getting swept at home in the Freeway Series.
Ruiz homered in his first major league at-bat, Corey Seager hit a three-run homer and the Dodgers beat the Angels 8-3 Sunday for their fifth consecutive victory.
Max Muncy had a two-run homer, Matt Beaty also homered and Mookie Betts added an RBI single for the NL-leading Dodgers (16-7), but everybody in blue was much more excited about Ruiz’s electric debut.
The 22-year-old catcher from Venezuela started behind the plate with Dustin May, his batterymate throughout the minors. In the third inning, Ruiz mashed a 1-1 fastball from Julio Teherán (0-2).
The homer in the quiet, empty stadium prompted ecstatic, echoing cheers from his new teammates, who dispatched pitcher Julio Urías to find the souvenir ball amid the tarps and unoccupied seats.
“That’s a memory that he and his family will have forever,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Playing big league baseball is a joy in itself, but when moments like that happen, it just takes everyone back to their first (game). You remember that, and you remember what it meant. It just disconnects us from that moment in the game and puts all that attention on the player, which is special.”
Ruiz is generally ranked the third-best prospect in the Dodgers’ perpetually bountiful farm system, and he earned his promotion with impressive work at the Dodgers’ alternate training site on the USC campus. He became the seventh player in the franchise’s 131-year history to homer in his first at-bat, and the first since Garey Ingram in 1994.
Ruiz said this game was the fulfillment of a dream “since I was 5 years old and started playing baseball.”
“I’ve just got to keep working and doing my thing,” he added. “I just need to keep learning from these guys and be focused for the next opportunity.”
With plenty of power and much more pitching than the Angels, the Dodgers swept a three-game series at Angel Stadium for the first time since interleague play began in 1997, although the Halos still hold a 70-57 overall lead in the rivalry.
Anthony Rendon homered for the fifth time in six games for the Angels, who have lost four straight. Brian Goodwin also homered and David Fletcher extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games, but the big-budget Halos have matched the slowest start in franchise history at 7-15.
“They are better than us right now,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “They beat us primarily (with) pitching. We’ll play them again at the end of the season. We have tough games all week. If you become easily discouraged, you shouldn’t be doing this. Looking in (the) rear view won’t do us much good.”
Muncy added his two-run shot in the third, and Seager connected off Matt Andriese for his fifth homer in the fourth.
May lasted only 4 1/3 innings for the Dodgers, giving up seven hits and two runs with two strikeouts on 88 pitches.
Scott Alexander (1-0) gave up three hits and a run over two innings.
Rendon hit the sixth homer of his ascendant season leading off the fourth. Fletcher singled in the fifth, extending the Angels’ longest hitting streak since 2017. Goodwin homered in the sixth.
Teherán struggled again with his new team, yielding six hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings.
“I made two mistakes that were big,” said Teherán, who signed as a free agent last winter. “At this level, when you make a mistake, they make you pay.”
Teherán’s ERA is up to 12.38 over three starts, and the Angels will “look at reassessing his approach,” Maddon said.
“He wasn’t sharp and there’s nothing to build off,” Maddon said of Teherán, who reported late to summer camp after contracting coronavirus. “We need to keep starting him and stretching him out more. He has been affected by the late start more than anyone.”
Dodgers: Rios left the game in the bottom half of the second. … Alex Wood was scheduled for a bullpen session Sunday. He made just one start before going on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation.
Angels: Slumping 40-year-old Albert Pujols sat out back-to-back games — the first time that’s happened when he was healthy during his nine seasons in Anaheim. The three-time NL MVP recently reached 659 homers to move right behind Willie Mays for fifth place in baseball history, but he’s batting .186.
Dodgers: Ross Stripling (3-1, 3.97 ERA) takes the Dodger Stadium mound when they open a two-game interleague series against the Seattle Mariners, who counter with Justin Dunn (1-1, 4.85).
Angels: Griffin Canning (0-3. 4.42 ERA) takes another shot at his first victory when they open a two-game interleague series at home against the similarly struggling San Francisco Giants.
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