With last night's release of the 2011 MLB schedules, our latest incarnation of the Top Five series takes a look at the best series on the schedules of both the Dodgers and Angels. Here are the top five series to watch for both Los Angeles area teams in 2011.
The Home Openers
The Dodgers begin their season at home, for the first time since 2008, with a four-game series from April 1-4 against the rival Giants. The Angels, however, start on the road in Kansas City, one of five MLB games on Thursday, March 31. Their home opener is April 8 against Toronto, part of a three-game weekend series.
The Long Road Trips
The longest road trip for the Angels is a 12-game trip from June 13-26, of mostly interleague opponents, facing Seattle, the Mets, Florida, and the Dodgers. The Dodgers don't have a four-series road trip, but rather have three separate 10-game road trips. The most daunting of the 10-game jaunts for the Dodgers looks to be from June 3-12, with trips to Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Coors Field.
Home Sweet Home
The Angels follow their season-long road trip with a season-long 13-game homestand, heading right into the All-Star break, from June 27 to July 10, the highlight of which is a second-straight weekend against the Dodgers on July 1-3. Considering that the Angels end their road trip at Dodger Stadium and that the homestand ends with the All-Star break, the Angels could conceivably spend three consecutive weeks sleeping in their own beds.
The Dodgers have a season-long 12-game homestand from June 13-26 against the Reds, Astros, Tigers, and Angels. It is the second straight season Detroit will travel to Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have two off days during the homestand (June 16 and June 23), plus a travel day once the homestand is through, on June 27, so the Dodgers should be a well-rested crew for their first ever visit to Target Field.
A New Stadium
Both the Dodgers and Angels will make first visits to new fields in 2011. The Dodgers travel to Minnesota June 28-30 to play the Twins, their first ever visit to Target Field, which just opened this season. The Angels make their first trek to Citi Field, to play the Mets from June 17-19. Both teams made their last visits to these cities, in different stadiums, in 2005.
Strong To The Finish
The Angels end their 2011 season with six games at home from September 23-28 against Oakland and Texas, the top two teams in the AL West this season. If the Angels can rebound from a poor 2010, that final week just may decide the division.
The Dodgers also end with six divisional games, from September 23-28, but on the road in San Diego and Phoenix. Who knows if the division will be up for grabs, but the Dodgers actually play 11 of their 26 September games against teams outside of the division.
The 2011 schedule is a new one to get used to, deviating from the standard Monday-to-Sunday week, so the World Series can end before November. But given exciting matchups like the ones presented above, 2011 should be a challenging schedule for both the Angels and Dodgers.