Via Bob Ford of the Philly Inquirer -
So, it is Joe Blanton to save the season tonight.
That’s the way it works now, after Cole Hamels disassembled in the middle innings against the Yankees last night. That is the rotation the Phillies have devised, and that is the savior you get.
The Phillies could lose tonight and still come back to win the World Series. It won’t be over. Not technically. But depending on how you feel about being set up with Pedro Martinez and Hamels in Yankee Stadium for potential starts in Game 6 and Game 7, it will be very close to being over.
Blanton has been a willing, predictable starter for the Phillies this season. He took the ball for 31 starts, usually went six innings, and gave up three runs and then went to the bench to hope for the best. He gave up 30 home runs, which was the fourth-highest total allowed in either league. Tonight, he takes that out against a team that hit 244 homers this season.
Mix it all together and ask if that’s going to be enough to beat the Yankees and avoid a perilous spot in which the Phils have to win three straight to earn a repeat championship. You can only hope.
Blanton’s confidence should be all right, for what that’s worth. Manuel decided not to pitch Cliff Lee on short rest in tonight’s game, which would have also made Lee available – also on short rest – for a Game 7.
“Blanton’s definitely been one of our most consistent pitchers this year,” Manuel said. “He’s a guy that when he goes out there, he has to have command of his pitches, and he’ll use all his pitches and he can make adjustments.”
Since the beginning of September, Blanton has made seven starts, six in the regular season and one in the postseason. He has a 5.22 earned run average in those starts, mostly within that elusive rhythm of the season. Tonight, he pitches on 12 days of rest. When he gave up four runs in six innings against the Dodgers, he had gone 16 days between starts.
“It was just one bad inning in that game,” Blanton said. “That’s kind of the way the game goes sometimes. I could throw exactly the same way against the same team the next time and it might be seven innings, one run.”
Yes, it might, and tonight would be a good spot for that next time to come around. Not that much is riding on Joe Blanton tonight, after all. Just the World Series.
Can the Phillies win this game today? Hey, stranger things have happened. But, clearly, the odds are in the Yankees favor in this one.