Monday, February 8, 2016

Blanton was better

Lost in the shuffle of a cold offense, two tie games blown by a shaky bullpen and 12 innings of baseball was Joe Blanton's rebound.

Blanton was better

Joe Blanton allowed two runs in seven innings in the Phillies´ loss to the Brewers Monday. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Joe Blanton allowed two runs in seven innings in the Phillies' loss to the Brewers Monday. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Lost in the shuffle of a cold offense, two tie games blown by a shaky bullpen and 12 innings of baseball was Joe Blanton's rebound.

The Phillies' fifth starter was more effective than his first two outings. In seven innings, he pitched in and out of trouble and allowed only two earned runs on seven hits. He struck out four.

"He pitched better," Charlie Manuel said. "He was moving the ball around."

More importantly, with runners on base, Blanton was improved. Milwaukee had the leadoff man on in five of Blanton's seven innings. But the Brewers were 2 for 14 with runners on base against Blanton.

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In his first two starts, Blanton let two innings snowball and derail the night. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said it was about Blanton executing better but the pitcher said there was a "small adjustment" he made when pitching from the stretch Monday. He wouldn't say exactly what it was but it had to do with the placement of his feet when he came set.

"I felt a little better out of the stretch," Blanton said. "I had a lot of innings when I was in it."

With two runs already home in the third and another big inning looming, Blanton induced a fly out from slugger Prince Fielder, stranding two runners.

In the fifth, with two runners on, he struck out Fielder on four pitches -- two of them changeups.

His best pitch was the changeup, which Milwaukee batters swung and missed at seven times. He threw 17 changes and 14 for strikes. In his first two starts, opponents swung and missed at the changeup just four times total.

"The changeup went a long way for me [Monday]," Blanton said. "I threw it when I was ahead in the count. It was a big pitch for me."

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