It’s been a tough season for Joe Blanton. Tonight he made his 18th start for the Phillies and while he has been the innings eater the team needed him to be this year, he has struggled to minimize the damage at times. After tonight he has pitched into the sixth inning 16 out of 18 starts this season. However, he has only allowed two runs or less twice (tonight he went 7IP, 7H, 2R).
It looked as if two runs would do Kentucky Joe in. Phillies’ bats had only managed one run on four hits against New York starter Jonathon Niese (7-5, 3.63). By the time the eighth inning rolled around, Niese had walked five hitters and was pulled for Bobby Parnell. The Mets hoped Parnell could hold the 2-1 lead. Parnell would then leave after surrendering four straight singles and one run without recording an out.
Enter Pedro Feliciano. He issued a bases loaded walk to Ross Gload and an RBI single to Jimmy Rollins before striking out Raul Ibanez for the first out of the inning. Manny Acosta came in, allowed a sac fly by Placido Polanco and Mike Sweeney hit his second single of the inning to score Gload. Final line of the inning : 7 hits, 6 runs.
Turns out the Phillies would need pretty much all of them. Danys Baez came out to start the ninth and gave up two hits but pitched well and recorded the first two outs. Instead of leaving him to get the final out, Charlie Manuel decided to bring in JC Romero to pitch against Mike Hessman. Hessman hit a three run homer (his first of the season) to bring the Mets within two.
Of course this was what Manuel wanted all along. He wanted to get Brad Lidge the save opportunity to build his confidence. Let’s hope it worked. Lidge got the final out for his 13th save. The score entering the eighth inning was 2-1 advantage Mets. One inning later and a combined nine runs, the Phillies had won it 7-5. They are now only 1.5 games back of the Braves who are hosting the Giants and still in progress as I write this.
The Phillies are now a season high 13 games (61-48) over .500 winning 13 out of their last 15 games. Raul Ibanez has a hitting streak through the last 14 of those games. It is a career best for him. Newly acquired 1B Mike Sweeney had two hits in the six run eighth with an RBI.
The Phils wanted to start this series off with a win as they will be going up against the Mets’ ace tomorrow night on MLB Network. The Phightins will send Cole Hamels to the hill for a match up of top lefties.