The Dodgers celebrated Star Trek night on Friday as several Spocks and Klingons meandered the concourse and William Shatner threw out the first pitch before introducing the Dodger lineup.
How appropriate that Los Angeles is venturing to boldly spend what no team has spent before.
No, they’re not the Yankees, but on a day in which they added Joe Blanton and the $2.9 million remaining on his salary, they were able to deepen their rotation while exhibiting that money is no object since the May purchase of the team by Guggenheim Baseball Management.
“We feel the guys in the room, we owe it to them to give them every opportunity as we continue to look for ways to improve our club, improve our depth as you go forward through a long season,” general manager Ned Colletti said. “Ownership has been tremendous.”
Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Brandon League and Shane Victorino, please meet Joe Blanton. This post-trade deadline club certainly has the makeup of Dodgers: The Next Generation.
Though Blanton did not arrive at Dodger Stadium in time for Los Angeles’ 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday, the pitching staff received a shot in the arm from Chad Billingsley, who turned in his third consecutive strong start while earning the win. His four hits and one run allowed over seven innings have given him a 1.13 ERA over his last 20.1 innings pitched. He struck out seven while earning his third straight win, illustrating that while he’s on the mound, resistance is futile.
“I was moving the fastball in and out,” Billingsley said. “Had a good cutter, so on a lefty I was cutting the ball in on them. Good two-seamer and good fastball command.”
Manager Don Mattingly agreed.
“Bills was really good again,” he said. “In the strike zone, making them swing the bat. When you get that, you get a chance to score. Their guy out there’s pretty good. [Jeff] Samardzija’s got a good arm. He’s a tough guy to handle. Bills kind of gives us a chance to kind of nick at him, and you finally break through.”
Captain Kirk, meet Captain Kemp. The Dodgers’ slugger doubled and scored in a two-run sixth inning that broke the game open after narrowly missing out on a home run when Bryan LaHair leaped against the wall to catch his opposite field drive in the bottom of the first. A.J. Ellis hit solo home runs to left and right field to mark the first multi-homer game of his career.
While Blanton occupied much of the discussion Friday afternoon, reports that recently waived Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee had been claimed by the Dodgers shifted attention to the upcoming negotiations between the two National League clubs. Los Angeles has until Sunday to negotiate a trade for Lee, who is owed $95 million between now and the end of the 2015 season.
“I know he’s loved there in Philly, and Ruben’s just not going to say ‘OK, let’s get rid of Cliff Lee,'” Shane Victorino said. “I think it’s going to take a lot to get him. That deal might be a little different than the [Blanton] situation.”
Though the team wasn’t focused on players who weren’t in the clubhouse, encouragement still abounded, even if it meant taking on players from a team against whom they lost a pair of National League Championship Series in the not too distant past.
“We had a lot of new additions this year,” Billingsley said. “Joe — he’s pitched in the postseason for quite a few years with Philly. He’s been there, and he’s got the experience.”
If everything comes together as smoothly as it did Friday night — Los Angeles out-hit Chicago 10-4 and did not commit an error while receiving a sterling pitching effort from Billingsley, Brandon League and Shawn Tolleson — then beam them up [in the standings], Donnie! Err, Scotty.