Early in tonight’s game, it looked like the Phillies had the Mets by the throat. Ryan Howard was on fire. By the fourth inning, Howard had two doubles and a home run. Even pitcher Joe Blanton smacked a 2-RBI single in the third inning.
But as Howard set the field on fire, Blanton began to cool off on the mound. After the Phillies supplied him with a 7-0 lead, Blanton allowed a two-run homer in the fourth. In the fifth, the wheels all fell off as his pitches began to sail up and into the happy zone for the Mets. Four runs later, Blanton was finally pulled. A fifth run scored before the inning was over, which was charged to Blanton and tied the game 7-7.
I feel like I may have said this close to 100 times in the last several years but, if Joe Blanton starts giving up runs in the fifth inning, take him out! If you look at Blanton’s stats from 2010 as an example, batters go from hitting .184 off him in the fourth inning to .305 in the fifth. And it gets worse from there.
But this is a pattern with him that you do not really need stats to tell you. It is pretty obvious. Trouble for Blanton almost always starts in the fifth or sixth. He began elevating his pitches at the start of the fifth tonight and that should have been like a siren going off for the Phils manager.
Charlie Manuel struggles with pulling Blanton because he hopes he can get through five to qualify for the win. But Manuel needs to start getting tougher with him or come up with a solution. You simply cannot allow a pitcher to blow a seven run lead. When you see the tidal wave coming, get out of the way!
Luckily for the Phillies, the offense kept on picking away at the Mets. Ben Francisco hit his second home run of the year. And on three hits, Placido Polanco collected three RBI. One of those RBI’s put the Phillies back in the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Also helping out during the game, Pete Orr, who started at second, went two for three at the plate. Howard ended his night going 4 for 4 with 2 RBI.
The bullpen held down the new lead for the Phillies. Both J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson pitched scoreless innings, turning the game over to the new closer, Jose Contreras. Getting the job done, Contreras got his first save of the year in a 10-7 win.
The final game of the series is tomorrow afternoon at 3:05pm. Roy Halladay will try to pitch the Phillies to series win over the Mets.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography