Entering Thursday night's game against the Twins, Joe Blanton was 1-3 over his last five starts, with an ERA just south of 10.00 and 11 home runs allowed. The line on Big Joe in this one: 9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 7 SO. With that, the Phillies win 6-1, the second consecutive victory for a club desperately wanting to leave the previous 10 games in the rear-view mirror.
We're happy for Joe (6-6, 4.93), and would like it if this outing was a sign of things to come. It can't hurt from a confidence standpoint, and for the most part, he was better at dangling pitches along the edge of the strike zone rather than right down the middle. Blanton was touched for a home run by Trevor Plouffe in the second, but otherwise he kept it in the ballpark.
The Twins' offense -- while improved -- still ranks in the bottom half of the AL, and is only middle of the pack for Major League Baseball. They've been one of the hottest teams at the dish during the month of June, with the ability to break out for double digits on any given night, but are still prone to head-scratchers.
In nine games, Minny has scored 10 or more three times, two or less three times.
So with regards to Blanton, we'll see. He's probably better as long as we're fair about our expectations going forward. In the future, I'd like to see him wade in the 3-4 ER range more often than the 5-7 he posted in five straight.
Meanwhile, Jim Thome kept it going as the designated hitter, belting another long, long home run -- his third since interleague got underway. It was a three-run blast that proved to be the decisive hit, but it was another crowd-pleaser nonetheless. Ty Wigginton also went deep in the second, and Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins scored insurance runs thanks to quality base running -- imagine that.
The Phils take two of three from the Twins before jumping across the border for a series against Toronto. I don't get the feeling there will be a huge rush to say they're back, but before you do anyway, a brief reminder the Twins are a last place team that gave the Fightins all they could handle. Considering the state of the opposing pitching staff, the Phillies probably should have swept, and almost gave another away instead. They're officially on a winning streak though, so...
Reel us back in, Phillies. Reel us back.