Although the Phillies' offense has been a little quiet lately, averaging less than three runs per game in their last nine outings, they seem to be finding their groove again after a series loss to the Brewers. The pitching has been great, including a pair of shutouts to start the series in San Diego. If they notch a third tonight, it will be the first time they've tossed three straight shutouts since 1969.
Coming off his first good start of the season, Joe Blanton will be on the hill again, aiming to earn back some of the fan support and "best fifth starter" status he may have lost in his first three starts. Last time out, Blanton gave us a good reminder that April is too early to bail on a pitcher (not that most people were ready to do that) and that he can be a plenty serviceable pitcher despite not having anywhere near the stuff of the other guys on the staff.
A look at tonight's matchup and some good Phillies readin' from around the web, after the jump.
Blanton drew a hard luck no-decision in one of the two losses to the Brewers after leaving the game having pitched seven strong innings. When he let up a pair of runs in the third inning, the worry set in among fans, but apparently not Blanton, who shut the Brewers down the rest of the way. Still looking for his first win of the season, Joe B. has posted 13 no decisions in his last 21 starts; the Phils have won 14 of the 21 though.
Tim Stauffer, San Diego's opening day starter, will get the turn for the Padres tonight. Stauffer is 0-1 on the season, with the Padres having won two of his four starts. He shut out the Cubs for seven innings last week, allowing just four hits, but the Pads lost 1-0. Ryan Howard has great numbers in limited appearances against Stauffer, with four hits in five ABs, including a pair of homers. However, the Phils haven't seen him since before they were WFCs.
On to some extras...
•Meech & Co. are back, having reincorporated TheFightins. Some good reading and viewing over there today, with some hippies running on the field and a look at Cole's new facial hair and his talents on the basepaths. [TheFightins]
•Bill Conlin pokes some fun at the emails he gets when the Phillies let everyone down by losing a game or two. [Daily News, second item]
•Meant to link this sooner because it's the kind of small item I love to read: Todd Zolecki says that Roy Oswalt pulled a new trick out of his bag to send Jorge Cantu back to the dugout. How did he end a 14-pitch at bat? [The Zo Zone]
•Matt Gelb says Polly and Chooch will get the night off, with Pete Orr and Brian Schneider filling in. [@magelb]
•Anyone see that footage of Chase Utley running his ass off around the cutout at Petco before last night's game? It was glorious.