I apologise to everyone about the timing of this post. I spent the last few days laid up with a stomach virus, managing to watch this game laying in bed using that game-day function on mlb.com. If you have ever watched a game with this thing, it is essentially a strike zone with a guy standing on its respective side of the plate, with the balls and strikes indicated by different colored circles. If I could have gotten out of bed, I would have turned on the radio.
Hey! Look at that! After all the fat jokes and trade rumors, Joe Blanton has looked down right impressive of late. He gave up one run on six hits in seven innings of work. Joe would have probably been yanked after the seventh inning, but with the state of the Philadelphia bullpen, Charlie tried to squeak out another inning and Joe gave up a homer. It is also interesting to note that Joe Blanton, the pitcher for the Philadelphia Philles has more wins than Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay combined. Anyway, Blanton didn’t have too much trouble with the Astro line up save Carlos Lee who went 3-4 and again looked like a really good major league pitcher.
It is always surprising to watch the Houston Astros. Mostly this stems from the fact that I do not know who half of these guys are. Regardless, it always seems like these guys always play the Phillies tough. Enter former White Sock and random pitcher Lucas Harrell. Armed with anonymity and a 94 MPH fastball, Lucas looked to capitalize on the unconscionable ability of the Astro team to beat the Phillies. He did not throw that badly today, but Harrell simply could not match Joe Blanton. In his 5 2/3 innings, Harrell allowed five his three runs (two earned) and generally looked like a major league pitcher. It is kind of fun to watch the Phillies simply outclass a team on the mound after years and years of watching dreck pitcher stumble to the mound and having the opposite happen. At least we still have the bullpen to worry about.
Placido Polanco has carved out a pretty good major league career for himself. It is pretty easy to look at the current incarnation Polly and forget about his years of being a pretty damn good baseball player. Some evidence of his success came to light with his 2,000th career hit. For good measure, Polly connected on a home run to achieve the milestone. In today’s game, Polanco walked and homered and scored three of the team’s five runs. He also generally seems like a nice person and is pretty easy to root for. Tonight’s game belonged to the bottom of the batting order. Five through eight drove in all five runs and went a combined 8-14 with Freddy Galvis, Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. all having multi hit nights. I suppose this really is not a recipe for consistent victory, but it is nice to see the bottom of the order as anything but a black hole.
The Phillies bullpen is bad. It dosen’t even look like they are being snake bitten by BABIP induced bad luck, they just are bad. Tonight, Charlie tried to send Joe out there for another inning and ended up having to turn to the pen after Blanton allowed a homer and single. Antonio Bastardo struck out the two batters he faced and Chad Qualls managed to get Carlos Lee out for the first time in the evening. Jonathan Papelbon was called on for the ninth and struck out three batters with a hit in the middle. I suppose the main objective is to limit the amount of Qualls time out there. Whatever the objective, the pen got through tonight and managed to throw two innings of scoreless ball.
The offense was okay, the bullpen was good and Joe Blanton pitcher really well again. In sum this one resulted in a pretty encouraging 5-1 win. If given the opportunity, I would recommend actually watching or listening to the game. The Phis go for the short series sweep with Cliff Lee on the bump tomorrow.