At one point last season Joe Balanton was lucky enough to be in a rotation with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels when the Phillies introduced their star-studded rotation at the beginning of Spring. However, Blanton did not have long to enjoy pitching with one of the greatest rotations in baseball as his right elbow landed him on the DL. But with a good rehab and some innings out of the bullpen the last few games he was ready to give it another chance.
Blanton allowed three hits, one run, one walk and struck out three in seven innings, helping the Phillies win their first series of the season and improve to 3-3. With that line of stats it is worthy to remember that Blanton is our 5th starter, and he could be a 2,3 starter for many other clubs. Blanton even got praise from the Marlin manager Joey Cora, who is managing while Ozzie Guillen serves a five-game suspension:
“You have to give credit to Blanton. He pitched extremely well. He was there with [Mark] Buehrle pitch by pitch.”
The win came not only from good pitching but good defense as well. Embattled rookie second baseman Freddy Galvis made a nice sliding stop to prevent a hit by Buehrle in the third.
Giancarlo Stanton ripped a ball with two outs in the fourth, the ball deflected off Wigginton, but Galvis handled the rebound and threw the ball to Blanton at first for the third out. However, Galvis did committed an error in the sixth, but he made up for it when he snatched a line drive from Stanton for the second out. His defense at most points was excellent.
Morrison then hit a ball to the left of the mound where Blanton picked up the ball and threw wide to first, but Wigginton was able to extend himself to make the catch, and managed to keep his foot on the bag to record the third out, stranding two runners on base.
Wigginton not only helped on the defensive side, but he was also a key piece on the offensive side as Charlie Manuel plugged him in at the right time. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Wigginton went deep to put the Phillies up 3-1, which would be all they needed. The first two runs came from on a homer from Victorino and an RBI single from Mayberry to score Pence, after Rollins was thrown out at home just a few plays earlier. And in the end Paplebon came in for the save in the ninth, his second of the season.
After starting the season a little shakily, the Phillies seem to have found their stride as the runs are starting to coming in and the pitching is as good as ever.