Blanton's shutout shows he's no ordinary Joe

The Sports Xchange

Most of the Phillies didn't leave the ballpark until well after midnight in Atlanta the night before.

Thursday's early start, 12:10 p.m. local time, meant two things. They wouldn't get a lot of sleep before a getaway day and they were likely to endure a hangover from an excruciating, 15-13, 11-inning loss that saw ace Roy Halladay cough up a 6-0 lead.

They might not have slept well, but they surely didn't let Wednesday night's loss linger. Joe Blanton pitched what was arguably his best game since joining the Phillies four years ago, throwing a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory.

The shutout was Blanton's first since June 2, 2007, when he was a member of the Oakland Athletics.

"This is the best I've felt mechanically and physically since 2007, honestly," Blanton said.

Said manager Charlie Manuel: "What Joe did today ... it goes to tell you what your fifth starter means to you, and what it takes to make a team," manager Charlie Manuel said.

"When we get beat in a game like last night and he comes back and pitches like that, that just goes to show you what we can do when we want to, when we have fun playing and relax and concentrate on out-playing somebody."

Blanton was as efficient as he was dominant. He needed only 88 pitches to get through nine innings. It was the fewest pitches a Phillies' pitcher needed to throw a shutout since Mike Grace threw an 84-pitch gem on Sept. 2, 1997.

Blanton needed 28 pitches to get through the final four innings and he threw more than eight pitches in an inning only once after the third inning. He retired 23 of 24 batters from the end of the first inning to the beginning of the ninth.

"Joe did great," catcher Brian Schneider said. "He really mixed up all his pitches and threw all his pitches, got ahead of a lot of hitters. It was one of those games where a lot of guys were swinging early.

"I'm just happy for Joe and happy for the team because (Wednesday) night was a tough game for us."

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