Three Los Angeles Dodgers players were on the Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series Championship team. This year’s playoffs are allowing them to create great new memories as they push for another ring.
The Los Angeles Dodgers just won a terrific National League Division Series and now have a chance to capture the pennant if a powerful Chicago Cubs squad can be stopped. Three former Philadelphia Phillies World Series champions currently dot the Dodgers’ roster. Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton reunited this season in Hollywoodland. Along with their teammates, this trio is aiming for LA’s first ‘Fall Classic’ victory since 1998.
Utley arrived last season. He was acquired in an August 2015 trade that netted the Phillies two minor leaguers. ‘The Man’ singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Game 4 to help the Dodgers beat the Nationals 6-5. That result forced the deciding contest in Washington.
Ruiz was obtained in August for two minor leaguers and well-liked veteran receiver A.J. Ellis. The exchange of Ellis for Ruiz was widely questioned among seasoned baseball observers. He’d been with the Dodgers’ organization since being selected in the eighteenth round of the 2003 amateur draft. However, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts masterful use of his flexible roster allowed Ruiz a chance to shine in October. Los Angeles bested the NL East Champion Nationals who were led by former Dodger great Dusty Baker.
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‘Chooch’ pinch hit for Utley in the seventh inning of Game 5 after Joc Pederson led off with a solo home run to tie the game 1-1. Ruiz’ single drove in pinch runner (and fellow catcher) Austin Barnes to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Ruiz then scored behind Howie Kendrick when Justin Turner tripled to make the score 4-2. Number 51 later leaped onto Clayton Kershaw whose gutsy relief effort secured the win (4-3) and the series.
Blanton signed as a free agent in January. The former ‘Fifth Phillies Beatle‘ served exclusively as a reliever this season, appearing in the highest number of games in his career (75). Blanton also applied the lowest full-season ERA (2.48) of his 12-year major league journey to his digital baseball card. The veteran right-hander, who was the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 first round selection (twenty-fourth overall), was the winning pitcher in Game 4 against the Cubs. He also took over for Rich Hill in the third inning of Game 5 and pitched 1.33 scoreless innings.
Utley turns 38 in December. The one-year, $7 million deal he signed last off-season means he’ll likely opt for free agency again. Past knee issues, which certainly robbed him of being able to produce far more productive seasons during his final Phillies’ years, seem to have been contained. The health of Utley’s heart has never been questioned. So, he’s more likely than not to ply his trade somewhere in 2017.
Ruiz turns 38 in January. Along with Utley, Ruiz was and remains deeply beloved by the Phillies’ faithful. ‘Chooch’ has a $4.5 million team option for next season and a $500,000 buyout clause. Aging catchers who are seen as positive clubhouse influences can find work. Whether that happens in Los Angeles remains to be seen.
Blanton becomes a free agent after the post-season and turns 36 in December. He’s wisely reinvented himself, as many other starting pitchers have later in their careers.
His bullpen effectiveness during the past two seasons indicates that his late-inning work will continue in the major leagues next season.