The Los Angeles Dodgers added two bats to their lineup before the trade deadline, and naturally, Manny Ramirez’s arrival in Los Angeles was the headliner. If Casey Blake continues to deliver like he has been lately, however, he won’t be flying under the radar much longer.
Blake looks to continue his clutch hitting with the Dodgers as the club continues a four-game series against the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles (60-59) acquired Blake from Cleveland and Ramirez from Boston in separate deadline moves designed to bolster one of the NL’s worst offenses. Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star with 514 career home runs, has certainly delivered on the high expectations, batting .476 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 11 games.
Though he arrived with far less fanfare, Blake is batting .297 with three homers, nine RBIs and seven runs scored for Los Angeles. He’s driven in at least one run in seven of his last 10 games, including two in each of the first two games of this series.
After delivering an RBI single in the first inning Tuesday night, Blake plated the game-tying run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. That set up Andre Ethier’s game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Dodgers the 4-3 victory and kept them one game behind division-leading Arizona.
“The last few weeks, this ballclub has really been playing hard,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who got his 2,127th regular-season victory, breaking a tie with Joe McCarthy for seventh place on the career list. “And then the addition of Manny has certainly picked up the personality of this club. We feel this is an important week for us.”
Meanwhile, the Phillies (64-55) have dropped four of six and seen their lead in the NL East shrink to one game over the New York Mets.
Philadelphia hopes to rebound against Los Angeles starter Brad Penny (6-9, 5.66 ERA), who got a win in his return from the disabled list Friday.
In his first start since June 14 because of tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, the right-hander won for the first time in nine starts since May 2 by holding San Francisco to one run and one hit in five innings of a 6-2 victory.
“It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve been out there,” said Penny, a 16-game winner each of the last two years. “It was good to be able to throw strikes again.”
Penny is 8-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 19 career starts against the Phillies, including 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 starts since 2003. He hasn’t allowed more than one run in any of his last four games against Philadelphia, which will hand the ball to Joe Blanton (1-0, 3.27).
After posting a 7.88 ERA in his first two outings following a trade from Oakland, the right-hander has gone 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his last two starts. He allowed one hit while striking out seven in seven scoreless innings of Philadelphia’s 2-0, 12-inning loss to Pittsburgh on Friday night.
“I think a combination of not getting some wins over there in Oakland, and then coming over here in a trade and trying to justify the trade, I think he put too much pressure on himself,” Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee told the team’s official Web site. “And I think, finally, he just kicked back and relaxed a bit.”
Blanton won his only previous start against the Dodgers on June 18, 2006, holding them to two runs in eight innings.