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Dodgers, Angels meet for annual Freeway Series with new MLB rules on display

With just days until the official start of the 2023 Major League Baseball season, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels met for their annual preseason Freeway Series matchup. 

One final tuneup for the 52 players set to take the field for each team at the start of the season resulted in an offense-heavy 13-5 victory for the Halos, with the newly implemented rules on display for the fans at Angel Stadium for the first time. 

Both teams traded runs through the first three innings before the Halos chased Dodgers' starter Ryan Pepiot from the game in the fourth inning thanks to homers from Hunter Renfroe and Luis Rengifo.

The Boys in Blue bounced back to tie the game at 5-5 in the fifth inning before the Angels scored eight unanswered runs through the rest of the contest.

Angels' starter Reid Detmers lasted just two and a third innings after allowing three runs.

New faces in the Dodgers lineup made positive contributions, with J.D. Martinez tallying three hits and Miguel Rojas driving in two of their five runs. 

While Tuesday's game ran just over three hours, a bevy of new rules are expected to impact the length of games throughout the season, with average Spring Training game times down nearly 25 minutes from the 2022 average of 3 hours and 10 minutes.

The pitch clock, which gives pitchers just 15 seconds between pitches with no runners on and 20 seconds with anyone on base before a ball is issued to the count, also applies to hitters who are required to be in the box within the same timeframe before getting a strike. 

On top of this, MLB also instituted a limit on defensive shifts and pickoff throws as well as expanding the bases by three inches to 18-inch squares.

The shift limitations now require two infielders on each side of second base — and none beyond the fringes of the infield grass when the pitcher is on the rubber.

While the rule changes were met with outcry from some players and baseball's most traditional fans, league executives are hopeful that a quickened pace will result in more action, something fans seem to be taking to thus far. 

"I think what happened over the years, was baseball kind of lost it's way," said Charley Steiner, Dodgers play-by-play analyst, who noted that thus far the changes have been met with support from players and press. "It became much more metrically driven and less entertaining. So what MLB decided to do was, let's get some action out there again."

The Dodgers are set to open their season with a four-game stand with the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of Dodger Stadium starting Thursday, while the Angels will hit the road for a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. 

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