For the first time in six years, the Dodgers welcome to town the Yankees, a team that happens to have the best record in baseball. The national story this weekend will no doubt be about Joe Torre facing his former team, but the real story is about a struggling Dodger team, losers of nine of their last 12 games, trying to get better against the best team in baseball.
Not that he planned it this way, but Vicente Padilla couldn't have picked two tougher opponents against which to return from the disabled list. Six days after allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings in Boston, Padilla hopes for a better result against the Yankees. The Yankees are second in baseball to the Red Sox in runs scored, and lead MLB in with an adjusted OPS of 118.
Mark Teixeira has given Padilla a hard time, with eight hits and two home runs in 14 career at-bats. Last season, Padilla hit Teixeira, his old Texas teammate, twice in the same game while with the Rangers, an episode so unpopular in the Rangers' clubhouse that it helped lead to Padilla eventually getting released in August.
The last time CC Sabathia was at Dodger Stadium, on June 21, 2008 while with Cleveland, he not subdued the Dodgers with his arm, striking out 10 in his seven innings, but also his bat. He smashed a long home run into the back of the Indians' bullpen in right field, the only run allowed by Chan Ho Park that day.
This season, Sabathia has struggled in a relative sense, allowing home runs at a clip of 1.08 per nine innings, the highest rate of his career. His 4.11 FIP is his highest since 2004. In June, however, Sabathia has been very effective, pitching at least seven innings in all four starts, winning each one. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, nobody in baseball has more wins than Sabathia's 63, and his innings total (824 1/3) is just one behind major league leader Roy Halladay.
Manny Ramirez has 16 hits in 25 career at-bats against Sabathia, including the playoffs, with four home runs and four doubles. Ramirez has a gaudy .640 batting average, .690 on-base percentage, and 1.280 slugging percentage in 29 plate appearances against Sabathia.
Interview with SNY
Earlier today, I was interviewed by Ted Berg of New York-based SNY.tv, about the upcoming series.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times followed his blog post Thursday with a wonderful profile of Vin Scully today. I particularly enjoyed that Scully celebrated the Dodgers' 1981 World Series win over the Yankees in his hotel room with his wife, a bottle of champagne, and potato chips.
- Charlie Haeger today was designated for assignment by the Dodgers, and as expected, Jon Link was recalled to take Haeger's place on the roster.
- Pau Gasol of the back-to-back world champion Lakers will throw out tonight's first pitch
- The Yankees' best hitter this month has been none other than left fielder Brett Gardner, who is hitting .396/.476/.566 in 18 games, albeit with a .465 batting average on balls in play
- Bob Klapisch of the New Jersey Bergen Record believes the Yankees and Joe Torre should reconcile three years after a messy breakup
- The Dodgers never allowed individual ticket sales to the general public for this series, requiring most to buy a seven-game plan at a minimum for the opportunity to purchase seats for this weekend. Per SeatGeek.com, the average price for on the resale market for a ticket this weekend is $102.70, compared to the Dodgers' season average of $55.27.
- Outfielder Prentice Redman, the 30-year old hitting for Albuquerque has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for an amphetamine, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Game Time: 7:10pm
TV: Prime Ticket