Blake gets rare production in Dodgers’ win over Rockies

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By Dylan Hernandez
Los Angeles Times

September 27, 2010

Casey Blake has always said that he has always felt younger than his age.

Until this year.

“This is probably the first year of my career that each and every day I wake up I feel something,” said Blake, who turned 37 years old last month. “It’s frustrating when your body won’t let you do certain things on the baseball field.”

Blake is finishing what has been a particularly tough season. The veteran third baseman is batting .247 with 15 home runs and 62 runs batted in, down from the .280 average with 18 homers and 79 RBIs from last year.

Blake had the kind of game Monday night that has been rare for him this year, as he was three for four with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

His two-out, bases-loaded single in the first-inning gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. He doubled for the second time in the game in the ninth inning, advanced to third on sacrifice bunt by Trent Oeltjen and scored on a single by A.J. Ellis to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1.

Blake, who remains a stabilizing presence in the clubhouse, said he feels as though he’s far from finished.

“I’m not a .250 hitter,” he said.

He pointed to some of his better stretches, such as his atypically strong start, in which he hit .328 with three homers and 14 RBIs in his first 16 games.

“It shows me I perhaps still have one of the best years in my career left in me,” he said. “In all honesty, I feel like I swung the bat better than my average shows.”

Blake’s contract is guaranteed through next season, when he is due to earn $5.25 million. His deal includes a $6-million option for 2012 that can be bought out by the Dodgers for $1.25 million.

Blake said he still thinks he can be the Dodgers’ everyday third baseman. He said he understands the Dodgers would want a starting third baseman to produce more than he has, but added, “I still think I can do it. I think there’s more.”

While saying he would accept a reduced role, Blake said he feels he has the backing of hitting coach Don Mattingly, who will be the manager next season.

Like almost everyone else on the Dodgers, Blake said he can’t explain why his season has gone the way it has.

Recent weeks were particularly brutal. In the 15 games he played leading up to Monday, Blake hit .107 and struck out 27 times in 56 at-bats.

Lilly ends winless streak

Ted Lilly said he had some peace of mind knowing that Major League Baseball is now overseeing the process of how baseballs are transported from the humidor at Coors Field into his hand.

“I kind of think that’s the way it should be,” he said.

With the intention of making Coors Park less hitter-friendly, the Rockies have humidified baseballs to counter the effects of Denver’s thin air. The Rockies were in charge of the entire process, leading to suspicions that they were mixing in non-humidor balls when they were hitting. The San Francisco Giants complained to the league last week, resulting in a decision to have umpires watch balls taken out of the humidor.

Lilly admitted that he used to have suspicions, noting that some baseballs he used in that park felt different from others.

“The suspicion crossed my mind,” he said. “But there’s no way of knowing so I would never make that accusation.”

Free of such suspicions, Lilly ended a five-start winless streak and earned his first victory in almost a month, limiting the Rockies to one run and four hits over eight innings. The left-hander’s previous win was on Aug. 24.

Lilly said he was particularly pleased with his effort, considering that he was pounded for seven runs and nine hits in four innings the last time he visited Coors Field.

“That kind of bothered me,” he said.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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