Down 2-1, Phils stick with Blanton for Game 4
Righty to pitch after long layoff, prevent short rest for Doc and Co.
SAN FRANCISCO -- This is precisely the scenario that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel dreaded. But there he was Tuesday evening, his Phillies in a 2-1 hole against the Giants in the National League Championship Series and Manuel facing a potentially series-changing pitching decision.The steady skipper is sticking with his original plan: Right-hander Joe Blanton will start Game 4 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX and Postseason.TV). "No discussion," Manuel said. At least that's the case inside the Philadelphia clubhouse. Outside, Manuel's decision to stay with Blanton -- who hasn't started since Sept. 29 at Washington and hasn't pitched at all since a relief stint on Oct. 3 against the Braves -- might be the issue being discussed most as the Phillies try to stay alive in the series, unless you count the case of the missing Philadelphia offense. An alternate scenario loomed before Tuesday's Game 3. Manuel could have opted to skip Blanton altogether and go back to Game 1 starter Roy Halladay on three days' rest. Then he could have used Roy Oswalt short in Game 5 and then probably Cole Hamels short -- for the first time in his career -- in a potential Game 6. If it got to Game 7, well, Manuel would have had little choice but to use Halladay on short rest again.
Manuel didn't want to discuss that scenario on Tuesday morning and said little about his decision after the Phillies' 3-0 loss in Game 3. Blanton didn't want to think about it, either."If I'm getting myself ready for the start, then I'm not starting, there's not going to be any surprises," he said. "But if I'm taking it as I'm not, then all of a sudden I am, then it's going to be a shock. So I take it as I am the whole time and kind of what happens is going to happen." Yes, that start is going to happen. Blanton was 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA during a 2010 season delayed at the start by a rib-cage strain. He beat the Giants on Aug. 18 at Citizens Bank Park, allowing two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings and striking out seven batters vs. no walks.
- 2010 Regular Season
- Overall: 29 G, 28 GS, 9-6, 4.82 ERA, 43 BB, 134 Ks
- Overall: 18 GS, 7-6, 3.00 ERA, 26 BB, 86 Ks
- Key stat: 2.51 ERA in last five regular-season starts
- Key stat: 1.13 ERA in Sept.
- 2010: N/A
Career: 8 G, 5 GS, 2-0, 3.89 ERA
- 2010: 1 GS, 1-0, 3.00 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 1-0, 3.00 ERA
- At AT&T PARK
- 2010: N/A Career: 3 GS, 0-1, 3.57 ERA
- 2010: 8 GS, 1-3, 4.60 ERA Career: 9 GS, 1-3, 4.47 ERA
- Against this opponent
- 2010: 1 GS, 1-0, 2.84 ERA Career: 7 GS, 2-3, 4.73 ERA
- 2010: N/A Career: N/A
- Loves to face: Juan Uribe (1-for-11)
Hates to face: Freddy Sanchez (3-for-12, 3 HRs)
- Loves to face: N/A
Hates to face: N/A
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: Been there, done that
- Why he'll win: Competitive rookie showed no fear in NLDS
- Pitcher beware: Hasn't thrown since a one-inning outing on Oct. 3
- Pitcher beware: His 4.60 ERA at AT&T Park this season is no home-field advantage
- Bottom line: Savvy veteran
- Bottom line: Beyond his years