Notes: Brooklyn's finest remembered
Ailing Garciaparra sidelined; Pierre now holds longest streak
ST. PETERSBURG -- Saturday is a big day for the Dodgers as they celebrate the past and aim to keep the present on track.
Los Angeles donned replica jerseys of the 1955 World Series champion Dodgers, the only Brooklyn team to bring home the title. If the appearance of some 30-odd men in grey wool uniforms with "Brooklyn" scrawled across the front didn't touch off any memories, surely "dem Bums" who took the field prior to the first pitch did.
Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider, as well as standout pitchers Johnny Podres and Carl Erskine, all members of the '55 Dodgers, milled about before the game, visiting and signing autographs. Joining them was then-teammate Don Zimmer, the Rays' senior adviser, who was being honored on Turn Back the Clock Night.
Dodgers manager Grady Little gave some thought to asking the trio to address the team, but then chuckled at the autograph lines for each that stretched from the field to the concourse, and smiled.
"I imagine their scheduled is probably booked up with obligations," he laughed.
Across the field, the Rays wore uniforms of the 1950-era Florida State League St. Petersburg Saints.
Luis Gonzalez was the first to try out the new duds, having done so during a photo shoot that occurred when he arrived Friday. The uniforms will be auctioned off on devilrays.com starting next week.
The 1955 Dodgers were probably best remembered for finally defeating the perennial powerhouse Yankees. The series went down to the deciding Game 7, when Podres threw a shutout in a 2-0 win. Podres earned MVP honors after going 2-0 in the Series, and yielding just two total runs.
"When we got into clubhouse after the game, there was sort of a momentary pause," Erskine remembered. "There was kind of a reverence about the place. The champagne bottles hadn't popped yet, and I think we all felt this gratitude of finally being world champions.
"A rookie came up to me later and said, 'You guys had tears in your eyes.' I don't know if anyone caught that moment, but that team was touched that it finally got the world championship."
Saturday, Snider was caught a little bit off-guard by all the fuss for a few oldtimers, but the 80-year-old stood proud as he remembered the legacy he and his teammates left on the field more than half a century ago.
"I think we're all surprised that we're still remembered the way we are as a team," he said. "I think it's over and done now. The Braves tried to say they were America's team ... but I think we became America's team."
"Brooklyn was a neighborhood borough; it was a residential area," he said. The team never did real well over the history ... but starting in 1947, we either won [the pennant] or were real close. That brought respectability to the borough. We finally won the total prize in 1955. They finally identified with us in that '55 year.
"And then we left Brooklyn at the end of the '57 season. When a young person dies, they leave right in the middle of their best years, and I think that's the way people remember the team."
Availability: Nomar Garciaparra was a late scratch because of flu-like symptoms. Little said the team had sent Garciaparra back to the hotel to get rest.
"It was bad enough that we didn't want him around the rest of the guys," Little said.
Closer Takashi Saito will probably sit out Saturday's game after he worked the ninth inning on Friday night. The right-hander picked up his 20th save of the year, but it wasn't easy: Saito threw 25 pitches, including an 11-pitch at-bat to Ty Wigginton, who eventually fanned on a foul tip.
"Usually when he comes in to save a game ... he gets it done in eight-10 pitches," Little said. "But it took a lot out of him, and we could see the effects as the inning got deeper.
"We'll see how he's doing, but we won't push him."
Out for a while: Yhency Brazoban had successful arthroscopic shoulder surgery Friday to repair his torn right labrum, and should begin throwing again in three months, Little said.
Here's the question: Erskine was a key starter on a Dodgers roster that won five pennants. It was 1955 when he got his first World Series ring, but the 1953 season -- and the ensuing World Series -- may have been his best calling card. What is he remembered for?
This and that: Derek Lowe got the win Friday, but didn't register seven innings for just the fifth time this year. He's now the 10th pitcher all-time to own double-digit victories against the Rays. ... Baltimore's Miguel Tejada snapped his 1,152 consecutive-games-played streak on Friday after he suffered a broken left wrist, Los Angeles' Juan Pierre now owns the longest streak, with 345 games played. ... Matt Kemp and James Loney are a combined .422 (27-for-64) with two home runs and 12 RBIs this season.
Down on the farm: Triple-A Las Vegas starter B.J. LaMura allowed seven runs over 1 2/3 innings of a 10-5 loss to Colorado Springs. ... Double-A Jacksonville improved its win streak to 11 games with another doubleheader sweep of Carolina, 5-4 and 4-0. ... Shane Justis led Class A Inland Empire with a 4-for-4 performance that included a triple, three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk in the 66ers' 8-2 win over the Storm. ... The Class A Loons were blanked in a 3-0 loss to South Bend.
And the answer is: Erskine set a World Series record with 14 strikeouts in a 3-2 win during Game 3 of the 1953 Fall Classic. The then-26-year-old fanned Mickey Mantle four times in the game. Erskine was a 20-game winner in 1953, and had two of the National League's seven no-hitters during the 1950s.
Up next: The Dodgers and Devil Rays conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 10:40 a.m. PT. Hong-Chih Kuo (1-2, 665 ERA) will get the ball on just three days' rest, as Brad Penny was pushed back to start Monday's game at Arizona. Former Dodger Edwin Jackson (0-8, 7.85) starts for the Rays.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.