Blanton hits road block after strong stretch

Blanton hits road block after strong stretch

PHILADELPHIA -- In 2011, Joe Blanton was the forgotten man.

Much had been made the previous offseason of the signing of free agent Cliff Lee to bolster an already impressive rotation. Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt garnered most of the attention as the "best" rotation in baseball.

Despite the best efforts of those four, Blanton continued to be overlooked and left out of the equation. To make matters worse, Blanton pitched in just 11 games as he battled with an inflamed right elbow.

That appeared to behind Blanton when he entered Saturday night's game 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA over his last four starts. Much of that good will disappeared against the Red Sox as Blanton allowed a career-high four home runs in just 4 1/3 innings in a 7-5 loss. The seven runs, six of which were earned, represented his worst outing of the year.

Compounding matters, manager Charlie Manuel almost pinch-hit for Blanton in the fourth, but Freddy Galvis hit his third home run of the year, second in as many nights and that gave Manuel a moment to think, and that led to one more inning for Blanton.

"I was going to hit him with somebody on," Manuel said. "Of course if Freddy [hit a home run], I was going to hit him, too. When Freddy homered, it's 5-4 and it's still early in the game. I sent him back out there. I felt like he still had some left. I had confidence in him going back out there and pitching an inning or two."

That confidence was built off Blanton's recent efforts and at least on this night, it backfired. Still, Blanton has been around long enough for Manuel to believe in him even after this one rough start.