Blantastic! (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Joe Blanton led the Phillies to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs for their tenth victory of the year. The Fightin' Phils put up the majority of their runs in one inning, something that they've done more than a few times this year. But I'll get to that later.
Blanton was extremely sharp tonight, advancing another few steps on the comeback trail. He went 7 1/3, allowing eight hits and two runs. He walked none and struck out eight. He threw 106 pitches, 78 for strikes. I'm not sure if Blanton can be this kind of pitcher all the time (his first start of the year against Miami was similarly excellent, his other two starts less so), but if he can settle somewhere in the middle, that would go a long way toward erasing the big, Blanton-shaped question mark I imagine anytime his name is mentioned. Jonathan Papelbon got his seventh save of the season, which means he's saved more than half of the Phillies 10 wins. This can't possibly continue, because by the All-Star Break Pap will be a worn down nub of a guy, just a spinal column in a uniform and a hat.
The offense briefly woke up from its Sleeping Beauty like slumber tonight, scoring four runs in the fourth inning, capitalizing on Randy Wells' seeming inability to find the strike zone. The Phillies' big inning contained three hits, three walks, and four runs. Jimmy Rollins, in the lead-off spot for the first time this season and hitting a robust .218, brought in two runs on a double. Carlos Ruiz had a big night, knocking in two runs on a single in the fourth, and one more run in the sixth on a lead-off homer to left center. It should be noted that Chooch's home run came just minutes after he took a foul ball off the side of his kneecap. He was sprawled out on the ground, and I was most certainly not pathetically yelling "PLEASE GET UP, CHOOCH!!" at my television. No I was not. He stayed in the game to hit that homer, cementing his status as an awesomely awesome badass.
The Phillies did finally draw some walks tonight, though it's nothing to get excited about. Of their four walks, none came from everyday players. Laynce Nix had two, Blanton had one, and Jim Thome had the other. Thome left the game with lower back tightness after scoring a run in the fourth inning. He was replaced by Ty Wigginton who went 1-for-2, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Yes, really.
The Phillies sure do love crooked innings, don't they? On a hunch, I took a look at the boxscores of all of their games this season. Of their 21 games, the Phillies have scored three runs or more in nine of them (don't get me started on that fact). In eight of those nine, they put up at least half of their run total in one inning. The Phillies aren't nibbling at pitchers as a squirrel or other small woodland creature would do to a snack. They are consuming pitchers whole, as a boa constrictor would do to a small woodland creature. It takes them several days to digest their felled pray, and then they do it again. Oddly appropriate.
This Fangraph only sort of looks like a boa constrictor.
Regrettable Larry Anderson Quote of the Game: "They've been talking about doing something with the walls in here, how about some rubber padding?"