NEW YORK -- Give Joe Blanton points for honesty and subtract plenty for his recent pitching outings.
Blanton says he’s healthy and that are no issues with his elbow. He says it’s his command that is the problem and it was demonstrated in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field.
He surrendered six earned runs and two home runs in five plus innings.
Blanton has allowed 19 earned runs in his past three games, covering 13 2/3 winnings. The surprising thing is that he and the Phillies didn’t lose all three. They actually won his last start, a 10-9 victory in St. Louis.
After saying repeatedly that his command has been off the last three starts, Blanton was asked if feels like letting off some steam. To his credit, he was composed when discussing his struggles.
“It’s so bad, you can’t even get mad,” he said. “That is how I really feel.”
With Roy Halladay out an expected 6-8 weeks due to his shoulder injury, the Phillies need others such as Blanton to step up even more.
In light of the injuries, Blanton understands that he and others will have to pick up the slack.
“Minus my last three starts, if everybody keeps throwing the way they’ve been throwing, then we have to do is the same thing and we will be OK,” he said.
Unfortunately, those three starts can’t be subtracted.
And with the Phillies inconsistent offense, it puts more pressure on the staff.
In the sixth inning the Phillies trailed 4-3 and had Hunter Pence on third and nobody out and couldn’t get him in.
“I wish I could fix that,” manager Charlie Manuel said about his team’s inability to get runners in from third base and less than two outs. “The only way to fix that is to start knocking them in.”
Manuel made a telling comment when discussing Scott Hairston’s sixth inning two-run home run that extended the Mets lead to 6-3.
“I felt like we were in the game at 4-3 but the guy hit the home run and made it 6-3 and slowed us down some and we couldn’t rebound from that.”
It was a three-run deficit with three innings left. Yet the Phillies were blanked by three Mets relievers. Mets closer Frank Francisco, who earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning, lowered his ERA to a still bloated 6.10, so it’s not like the Phillies were facing Mariano Rivera in his prime.
On this night they couldn’t overcome the three-run deficit.
Right now, the margin for error is so small for the Phillies. It will get even smaller if Blanton isn’t able to recapture his command