Much of the offseason discusscion pertaining to the Phillies revolved around the star-studded pitching rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. If those four are the wheels which make the Phillies move from point A to point B, then Joe Blanton is the spare tire. The media and the public will have a tendency to overlook Blanton in such an excellent rotation; luckily for Blanton, his 2011 debut is a performance which can be overlooked as the offense roared to a 10-7 victory.
Blanton pitched well in the first few innings. His first win of the 2011 season seemed to be inevitable as the Phillies gave him a comfortable 7-0 lead. Blanton surrendered two earned runs in the fourth inning, followed by another five earned runs in the fifth inning. After 4 1/3 innings of work, Blanton had allowed 10 hits, two walks and seven earned runs while striking out six batters. There would be no victory for Blanton.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Placido Polanco (3/5, 3 RBI) singled to right field, scoring Shane Victorino for the 8-7 lead. An RBI single by Ryan Howard (4/4, HR, 2 RBI) in the fifth inning and a solo home run by Ben Francisco in the sixth inning would be enough for the victory.
Howard had a career-high four hits, falling just short of hitting for the cycle (ah, that elusive triple). Although he is normally a slow starter, Howard is currently batting .524 with two home runs and eight RBIs through five games.
The bullpen had a strong night as Antonio Bastardo, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras combined to pitch 4 2/3 innings, allowing only two hits and one walk while striking out four batters. Contreras finished the game with his first save of the season.
- Howard (4/4, HR, 2 RBI) fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Howard is currently hitting .524
- Shane Victorino (2/5, RBI) posted his first multi-hit game of the season
- Polanco (.450 AVG) has three multi-hit games this season
On Thursday, Roy Halladay (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will pitch the final game of this three-game series. In 2010, Halladay was 4-0 in four starts with a 2.56 ERA against the Mets.