Joe Blanton became the fourth Phillie to record a quality start on baseball’s biggest stage. Ace left-hander Cole Hamels tries to punctuate a pitching-dominated series, and season, tonight.
Final thoughts on Game 4, as I have two graphics to prepare.
Forget his tight slider and pinpoint control, his best in a Phillies uniform. Like the rest of the rotation, Blanton’s best stuff was between his ears. Unsightly as its been at times, the Phils have set the pace this series, even in the Game 2 loss, thanks to a rotation that has stayed cool and has stuck to the plan. After the game, Blanton became the latest pitcher to praise the game calling of Carlos Ruiz, keeper of the scouting blueprints that have kept Tampa’s 3-4 hitters without a base hit this entire series. That’s the story. Not ducks left on the pond, not the blind officiating and certainly not the coonhound scat on Kentucky Joe’s bill.
Before Game 1, I used the words reliable, tough and dependable in describing the Phils’ rotation, words that raised some eyebrows with readers in comparison to Tampa’s staff, considered the deeper of the two units. Well, the 45-year-old, the minor league demotee and Kentucky Joe, who drew a collective trade deadline 'meh' from everyone, have kept the focus, pitching in games they’ve dreamt about pitching their entire lives. As veteran as the Phillies are, both teams are World Series noobs.
Tampa hasn’t played good baseball, but they’re still dangerous. Step away from from the national stage and it’s a four-game slump that would be considered innocuous if this series was being played in May. But facing elimination, and a million miles from more cowbell, the Rays are all alone with the feet of America's sixth-largest city standing on their throats.