Saturday, May 14, 2011
Posted 3:50 p.m. Updated: 5:46 p.m.
By John R. Finger
ATLANTA Maybe there is something to the notion that familiarity breeds contempt. After all, contempt was exactly what Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens had for the Phillies hitters during the 5-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Turner Field.
Jurrjens, pitching against the Phillies for the second consecutive start, retired the first 17 hitters of the game while spinning a three-hitter to improve to 5-0.
I dont know about him having our number. I think its his pitching, manager Charlie Manuel said of Jurrjens. I think its his location. He was better today than he was at Citizens Bank Park last Sunday night. I think he threw the ball better today. He hit spots, man. His changeup was good and spotted his fastball.
While carrying a perfect game into the sixth inning, Jurrjens allowed the Phillies to hit just three balls out of the infield as the Braves spotted him with back-to-back homers from Martin Prado and Nate McLouth to start the game. However, in the eighth and ninth innings, the Phils brought the tying runs to the plate twice, only to squander those chances.
He looked like himself. We saw him a few days ago and he was the same guy, said Shane Victorino, whose 15-game hitting streak came to an end. He got guys to swing at balls they probably didnt want to swing at. He mixed up his pitches.
Meanwhile, Phils starter Joe Blanton turned in another up-and-down outing in his second trip out since being activated from the disabled list. The big righthander lasted five innings, throwing just 74 pitches with the back-to-back homers accounting for the only runs, but it wasnt exactly smooth sailing.
Blanton had just one clean inning, but says he could have kept going.
He threw 74 pitches, but its how he got there, Manuel explained. Were trying to stretch him out, were not trying to work him in. Were trying to get him back to where he was and where he should be.
Blanton has allowed five runs and 13 hits in 10 innings since his return, but the velocity of his pitches has been a few ticks off on the radar gun. Saturday he topped out at 88 mph and was relying mostly on his breaking pitches.
Physically hes not there and maybe he doesnt feel right, too, Manuel said.
Contrarily, Blanton says he pitched better the second time out and likely could have kept pitching for a few more innings. Still, Blanton says he still feels some crankiness or achiness in his right elbow.
Moreover, he said he threw so many breaking pitches because it was a pitch that was working well for him.
I felt like I would have kept throwing the same, Blanton said. To me it wasnt a matter of not having anything left, maybe were just trying to continually build and keep grinding them out. I still felt like I had something left and I felt better than I did in the last start.
Regardless, make no mistake about it Blanton kept the Phillies close enough to win the game late. After the first 17 hitters went down, six of the last 15 Phillies reached base but the team couldnt figure out how to get that key hit.
We didnt hit too many balls hard today, Manuel understated.
The Phillies and Braves finish the series on Sunday afternoon when Roy Halladay (5-2, 2.05) takes on righty Tim Hudson (4-3, 3.09). In his career against the Braves, Halladay is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Hudson is 7-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 19 starts against the Phillies. He beat the Phillies on April 8 at Turner Field by scattering eight hits and two earned runs through 7 23 innings.
Halladay going for the Phillies has Manuel a bit excited.
Lets see if we can score a few for him, he said.
Better yet, players for the Phillies and Braves will wear team uniforms from the 1974 season. That means the powder blues for the Phils.
E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com