Hey….wait just a minute. I thought that the guy throwing tonight was supposed to be bad at pitching? Joe Blanton looked almost…..dare I say……dominant. He lumbered through seven innings allowing only three hits, a walk and one earned run. The run he allowed came on a play that Hunter Pence probably should have made. This was the best start from Joe since September of 2009, which ironically came against the Marlins. It is really hard to root against Joe Blanton. While he has run into some tough luck and people get mad at the big right hander, it lacks the venom reserved for other players in this town. It is akin to watching the dog rip apart the toilet paper. You get mad at the animal, but in your heart, you know that its just a dog. What I am saying is that Joe Blanton is kind of like a mischievous dog. We may get mad at him, but we are really not THAT mad at him. That and I think that Joe could totally eat a whole frozen chicken in one bite.
Opposing Blanton was the former White Sock Mark Buehrle. This is the type of pitcher that can screw up a line-up for weeks. Think of him as a young Jamie Moyer (keep in mind that he is in his mid thirties) getting by more on guile than ferocity. It really would have been a shame if the Phillies wasted a strong start by Blanton by flailing around at a bunch of 75 MPH change ups. Through the first three innings, it looked like the Phillies were going to try and pull all the slop over the left field wall and ended up hitting a bunch of balls to Hanley Ramirez.
In the bottom of the fourth Shane Victorino opening the scoring with a home run to left field, his first of the year. After Placido Polanco flied out, Jimmy Rollins singled, followed by a double from Hunter Pence. Rollins attempted to score from second on a bobbled relay, but Omar Infante nailed him at the plate. John Mayberry Jr. made the score 2-0 with the third straight hit of the inning. Ty Wigginton ended the scoring by crushing a cutter into the seats in the bottom of the seventh. In all, the Phillies got to Buehrle for eight hits and three runs in 6 1/3 innings marking the second consecutive night off from offensive ineptitude.
Chad Qualls entered the game in the eighth inning attempting not to ruin everything. I commend Charlie Manuel for not relying on Kyle Kendrick for this role based on Kyle’s penchant for ruining everything. Qualls allowed an infield single and a walk, but managed to hand the 3-1 lead to Papelbon. Papelbon’s first game as a Phillie was extremely uneventful. In this one, he allowed a couple of baserunners, but erased them with a double play ball off the bat of John Buck to earn his second save as a Phillie.
All of the unrelenting, terrifying fears we have about this team were allied by positive contributions from the offense, a scoreless eighth inning and an actual honest to goodness home run from a first baseman. 3-1 win for the Phillies as they take 2 of 3 from the Fish.
Next up Cliff Lee and the Phillies look to pound Dickey(R.A. that is) at Citzen’s Bank Park. After a 4-0 start, a win for the Phillies will lock the teams in the standings at 4-3.