Joe Blanton walked back to the dugout to a standing ovation after being taken out of the game in the seventh inning, and rightfully so.
In his first start of 2010 after coming off a rehab assignment, Blanton pitched 6.2 innings with 10 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, and 4 Ks. It may not look like a winning line (and in the end, it wasn’t), but the Phillies achieved a different type of victory tonight in that they were able to add a pitcher back to the lineup that can eat innings and is if nothing else, consistently consistent.
I wrote about Blanton last year and how he was my favorite of the bunch back when the Phillies had more starting pitchers than they knew what to do with even with the likes of Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez headlining the rotation. There were times when you could sort every pitcher by every stat and Joe would come up third every single time (you all know by now how much I love spreadsheets so believe me when I say I did this at multiple points throughout the season). In 2009, Blanton went 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA. With the exception of the 7-8 loss he took on September 10th to the Nationals, the Phillies only averaged 1.43 runs per game when leaving Blanton with the “L” which is a far cry from the 4.75 runs per game they averaged when handing him the win.
So what’s the point? Why am I carrying on about last season’s stats in a game recap? It’s because of this: Blanton is a number three pitcher – period. He is going to give up runs, he’s going to get hit, and whether it seems that way on the surface or not, he’s going to need all the run support he can get. And if there is one thing you can count on when it comes to the Phillies, it’s that if they score 20 runs in two days you can bet the bats are going to cool off just as soon as everyone starts to get comfortable again.
The Fightins were barely fighting for their lives tonight as they only had two men in scoring position all night and dribbled out a mere five hits. Jayson Werth continued to (not so) silently make a case for himself reaching base in his 25th consecutive game going 2-4 with a home run. Chase Utley went yard in the 9th inning trying to start a rally, but the Phillies still fell short losing the series opener 6-3. Granted there were some scoring “opportunities” that were left on the table such as Utley’s near homer that was actually reviewed with instant replay (which was clearly foul, but since when do they bother with the replay this early in the season?), and the umpire claiming Blanton interfered with a ball tossed to Pujols which was an inning and rally ending debacle that got Cholly so riled up he was eventually ejected from the game – but I digress.
As many of our other blog friends have gone on to discuss tonight, the bullpen is still the foremost concern for Philadelphia. When Blanton’s night ended in the seventh, he was responsible for two men left on base, and Nelson Figueroa was responsible for keeping them away from home plate. After a wild pitch and intentionally walking Matt Holliday, Figgy gave up a two-out double to David Freese which would score the Cardinals three runs which would be all they needed to finish off the Phils. The inning that began in a 1-1 tie ended with St. Louis up 5-1 and the fans left wondering if they would ever be able to trust the ‘pen this year.
The excitement didn’t end there, folks. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we ignored the biggest distraction of the game.
Enter: Tasermania 2010.
It is our understanding that Internal Affairs is now reviewing the use of the taser etc and so on to determine if it was necessary (which, I’m pretty sure @JWerthsBeard thinks it was since why else would this guy be running around in the outfield if for no other reason but to touch it in all it’s glory?) and it will probably be added to the list of stupid things Phillies fans do at games (which we don’t need), but I stand by this: anyone who would willingly and voluntarily get banned from Phillies games for life is not a fan. He’s just a jackass looking to make $5.00 of his buddy so he can go buy some more hot dogs.
Game two tees off tomorrow night at 7:05 with Cole Hamels (2-2, 5.28 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (4-1, 2.13 ERA).
Filed under: Game Review | Tagged: Albert Pujols, Bullpen, Charlie Manuel, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, David Freese, Don't Tase Me Bro, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton, Matt Holliday, Nelson Figueroa, Pedro Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals |