PHILADELPHIA — Dodgers manager Joe Torre is out of pinstripes, now in another league and hoping to lead another team to the World Series.
But the former longtime Yankees skipper had a closer look at the Rays than most. Playing Tampa Bay 18 times a year, Torre saw a young team take its lumps before winning the AL East this season.
Torre, speaking before Friday's NLCS Game 2, said he wasn't surprised to see the Rays become winners after 10 losing seasons.
"You could tell every year they were tougher to beat," he said. "They kept adding one factor after another — speed, sneaky power — and once they started addressing the pitching, once the pitching they had started growing, you knew it was just a matter of time before they were able to control the game a little bit better.
"For them to go from worst to first, yeah, that's a surprise that it happened that quickly, but I think they just got on a roll."
Torre said it was quite a feat for the Rays to hold off Boston to win the division — a division that used to be dominated by his Yankees and the Red Sox.
"They certainly were tested all year," Torre said. "I give (Rays manager) Joe Maddon a great deal of credit for that, just to keep these kids focused and not too excited."
CHANGE OF PACE: One of Game 1's most pivotal moments Thursday came in the eighth, with reliever Ryan Madson facing Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez as Philadelphia clung to a one-run lead.
After a visit from manager Charlie Manuel, Madson made quick work of Ramirez, throwing a first-pitch changeup that Ramirez lined down the third-base line but right at 3B Pedro Feliz for the out. Madson's emergence into that setup role has been important for the Phillies bullpen. He has allowed just one run in his past 14 appearances.
"When a guy can throw 96 and then turn around and the next pitch throw a changeup 79 and they look the same, the sky's the limit for him," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said.
ON THE BRINK: Torre looked ahead to taking the series to L.A. with optimism, even though this is the first time in eight LCS appearances that the Dodgers face an 0-2 hole. "Sometimes when you are in that locker room or in that lineup, you tend to think things are worse than they are," Torre said. "You don't get to this time of the year without having the capabilities of winning three or four games in a row."
ODDS AND ENDS: Ramirez's three-run homer in the fourth gave him 27 career LCS RBIs, tying him for second all time with David Justice. Bernie Williams leads with 33. … The Phillies have scored an average of 5.9 runs in their past 14 home games.