Thursday, May 3, 2012

Joe the Lumber Gets Phils Back on Track

This afternoon's Phillies game played out the way you would expect a lot of Phillies games to play out this season. Average offense (4 runs on 9 hits) and the pitching staff making it stand up. One thing that may not have been expected was that it was Joe Blanton on the mound making those runs stand. And he was brilliant.

After last night's crazy and annoying game, the Phils were in desperate need of a great outing by Blanton for several reasons. First, they saw the ace of their aces, Roy Halladay, have arguably his worst start as a Phillie. He surrendered 8 runs over six innings, failing to protect the 6 run lead he was spotted by a stunningly lively Phillies offense. The offense battled back to retake the lead, only to lose a heartbreaker in extra innings. It was so frustrating to watch a team that has been struggling so much offensively waste its best offensive output of the season. It was an extremely tough loss, and the Phils needed to rebound from it. Second, last night's long game left the bullpen depleted. And third, the Phillies are heading into an incredibly tough series against the first-place Nationals this weekend, a series that holds about as much importance as an early May series can. And man did Joe deliver.

Big Joe just went out and threw a complete game shutout. He allowed just three hits. He struck out six and walked none. He pounded the strike zone, throwing only 88 pitches, 67 of which were strikes. He flat-out dominated the game. It was his first complete game since 2007, and his first as a Phillie. And it came at the perfect time. The Phils were able to overcome last night's debacle, take two of three from a team ahead of them in the division standings, and get a little momentum as they prepare to face the team they are chasing for first place.

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