Joe Blanton had yet another strong outing for the Phillies last night, pitching into the eighth inning and holding the Astros to a single run as the Phils topped Houston 5-1.
Over his last four starts, Blanton has thrown to a 2.10 ERA and averaged seven and a half innings per start. Through eight appearances (seven starts) he has walked one right-handed batter this season. His walk rate is the best it has been since 2007. His hit rate is the best it has been since 2005. He has allowed two home runs in 48 2/3 innings for the year, which gives him the best home run rate of his career.
Placido Polanco notched his 2,000th career hit in the game as well and did it in style, popping out a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, providing some much-needed insurance runs for a team that still sports the worst bullpen ERA in baseball.
The Phillies are 17-19 on the year after beating the Houston Astros 5-1 last night. They have won three of their last four games.
Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a run on six hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a solo home run in the top of the eighth. He struck out seven.
On April 12, Blanton walked Hanley Ramirez with one out in the top of the sixth. He hasn’t walked a right-handed batter in his six starts since.
He walked Jed Lowrie with two outs in the top of the first. Carlos Lee was next and blooped a single into center, moving Lowrie up to third. Blanton struck Brian Bogusevic out to leave both runners stranded.
Chris Snyder singled to left with two outs in the second. Blanton got pitcher Lucas Harrell on a ground ball to second to set the Astros down.
Blanton set the Astros down in order in the third. Jordan Schafer tried to bunt for a single, but Blanton threw him out for the second out.
Lee led off the fourth with a single to left, but Blanton set the Astros down in order behind him.
He got three ground outs in the fifth.
The Phillies led 1-0 when Blanton started the sixth. He got the first two before Lee singled again, this time to center. Blanton struck Bogusevic out swinging to leave Lee at first.
It was 3-0 when he set the Astros down in order in the seventh.
Switch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez hit for pitcher Fernando Abad to start the eighth and homered to right, cutting the lead to 3-1. Jose Altuve followed that with a single and Bastardo came in to pitch to the lefty Schafer. Rigthy Justin Maxwell hit for Schafer. Bastardo struck out Maxwell and Lowrie behind Maxwell before Qualls came in to pitch to the righty Lee. Qualls got Lee on a ball hit well to right to leave Altuve at first.
Bastardo and Qualls get the job done after Blanton has a rough start to the frame, facing three hitters and retiring all three.
Bastardo was pitching for the second day in a row and dropped his ERA on the year to 1.64 with the outing. He has made eight appearances in May in which he has allowed one hit and three walks over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. He ended April with a 5.40 ERA through his first seven appearances.
Qualls hasn’t been charged with an earned run over his last four appearances, but has given up three hits and a walk over 2 1/3 innings. Lefties are hitting 292/370/464 against him for the season.
Papelbon started the ninth with a 5-1 lead after the Phils scored two in the bottom of the eighth. Chris Johnson singled on a ball that could have been an error on Polanco, but Papelbon struck out the next two batters to end the game.
Papelbon has made 15 appearances on the year and been charged with a run or more in two of them. Three of the four runs he has allowed for the season came on one swing, Jordany Valdespin’s three-run homer on May 7.
Great night for the pen in which they go two scoreless frames, allowing one single and striking out five.
Papelbon has thrown for three days in a row. He threw 14 pitches in the game. Bastardo has thrown two days in a row and threw eleven. Four pitches for Qualls.
The Phillies lineup against righty Lucas Harrell went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Victorino (4) Pence (5) Ruiz (6) Polanco (7) Mayberry (8) Galvis. Pierre in left against the righty. Mayberry at first for a Phils team without Thome or Nix, but hitting behind Polanco. Galvis at second with the lefty Orr on the bench.
Rollins, Pierre and Victorino all hit the ball well in the bottom of the first, but all three went down on line drives. Rollins and Pierre lined to left and Victorino lined to third.
Pence reached on an infield single to start the second, but Ruiz hit into a double-play behind him. Polanco drew a walk, but Mayberry struck out swinging to leave him at first.
The Phillies went in order in the third. Galvis led off and tried to bunt for a single, but Johnson handled it and threw him out at first.
The Phils went in order in the fourth.
Ruiz led off the fifth and was hit by a pitch. Polanco was next and hit a ball that Harrell handled, throwing to second to force Ruiz for the first out with Polanco safe at first. Mayberry was next and hit a ball to short that Lowrie didn’t handle for an error, putting men on first and second with one down. Galvis followed with a single into center, scoring Polanco to out the Phils up 1-0 and moving Mayberry up to third. Blanton bunted Galvis to second with the second out. Harrell got behind Rollins 3-0 and then put him on intentionally, loading the bases for Pierre. Pierre grounded to first to end the inning.
Big hit for Galvis helps make the Astros pay for the Lowrie error.
Victorino tripled to center to start the sixth. Pence popped up to second behind him for the first out, but Ruiz followed with a single into center, scoring Victorino to put the Phils up 2-0. Polanco grounded to short with Ruiz forced at second for the second out. Mayberry was next and lined a double to left, putting men on second and third for Galvis. Righty Wilton Lopez came in to pitch to Galvis and Galvis singled into left. Polanco scored to extend the lead to 3-0, but Mayberry was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
No RBI for Pence with nobody out and a runner on third. Big hits in the inning from Ruiz and Galvis.
Lefty Fernando Abad set the Phillies down in order in the seventh. Blanton hit for himself to start the inning and popped to first.
The lead was cut to 3-1 when the Phillies hit in the bottom of the eighth. Righty David Carpenter struck out Victorino and Pence before Ruiz singled into left. Polanco was next and hit a 1-0 pitch out to left-center for a two-run homer, the 2,000th hit of his career, putting the Phils up 5-1. Mayberry and Galvis followed that with back-to-back singles, putting runners on first and second for Qualls. Lefty Mike Fontenot, called up on Friday, hit for Qualls and flew to center to leave both runners stranded.
Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his average on the year to .225. He’s 8-for-his-last-42 (190/261/310 over his last 47 plate appearances).
Pierre was 0-for-4 and left three men on base. Of the 104 NL players with at least 100 plate appearances, his .387 on-base percentage is 12th. He’s hitting .387 over his last 34 plate appearances.
Victorino 1-for-4 with a triple. He’s 6-for-his-last-16.
Pence was 1-for-4 and struck out twice. He’s hitting 198/237/429 over his last 97 plate appearances. It wasn’t a factor in last night’s game, but for the season he’s hitting 179/233/357 against left-handed pitching.
Ruiz was 2-for-3 with an RBI. He’s 6-for-his-last-12 with a walk. He (.583) and Nix (.587) are the only Phillies slugging better than .450 for the season. He, Nix and Pence (.450) are the only Phillies slugging better than .429 for the season.
Polanco 1-for-3 with a walk and a two-run homer. 354/382/492 over his last 70 plate appearances.
Mayberry 2-for-4 with a double to up his average to .247. 346/379/538 over his last 29 plate appearances — 9-for-26 with two walks, two doubles and a home run. After striking out in 20 of his first 60 plate appearances on the season, he has struck out in just three of his last 29. His power for the year against righties is still virtually non-existent. His double off of Harrell in last night’s game was just his second extra-base hit of the year against a righty. For the season he’s hitting 224/269/265 against righties and about 58.4% of his plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching.
Galvis was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Over his last five starts he’s gone 8-for-18 with two walks, three doubles, a triple and seven RBI, upping his line on the season from 189/215/289 to 231/265/361.
Cliff Lee (0-1, 2.17) pitches this afternoon against a Houston starter TBD. Lee has made just one start since returning from the DL, holding the Mets to two runs over six innings. The team is 0-4 in the games he has started this season, despite Lee’s 2.17 ERA and 0.76 ratio.