By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
For the first four innings, it looked as if Joe Blanton was well on his way to showing folks in his first start of the year that he is not the presumed weakness in the Phillies vaunted starting rotation.
After all, he had a tremendous start, the Phillies jumped out to a 7-0 lead after three innings with two runs batted in coming from Blanton himself.
With a 7-2 lead in the fifth, Blanton had the mother of all meltdowns and gave up 5 runs on 5 hits the enabled the Mets to tie the game at 7-7.
“I tried to throw a lot of strikes earely and they ambushed me and it snowballed on me,” Blanto n said. “Before I knew it, (expletive) had the the fan and I couldn’t turn it around. We really messed in giving all the momentum when we had every bit of it.”
But the Phillies offense and bullpen would ultimately come to Blanton’s rescue as the Phils (4-1) came away with a 10-7 win over the New York Mets (3-2) in front of 45, 061 fans at the Citizen’s Bank Park on Wednesday night.
With all the pre-season talk about the strength of the Phillies starting rotation, the consistency of the offense was a huge question. At least in these first five games of the season, Phillies hitters have done well with slugging first baseman Ryan Howard leading the way. Against the Mets, Howard had four hits including a homerun with two RBI.
“The statement that we’ve made is us being us,” Howard said. “I think a lot of people counted us out. We’re just playing our game. If it’s a squeeze, if it’s a double or if it’s a homerun. Whatever it takes. As long as we can get runs on the board.”
The pivotal point of the game came in the bottom of fifth. With the Phillies reeling from the Mets game-tying, five-run fifth, the Phils bounced right back and scored two runs after the first two batters in the inning made outs. The Phillies got an RBI single from Placido Polanco that scored Shane Victorino, who reached on a two-out double.
After a walk to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Howard smacked an infield single that went off the glove of Mets pitcher Blaine Boyer. The ball slowly trickled into the hands of second baseman Brad Emaus and by the time he threw to home plate, Polanco scored from second to give the Phillies a 9-7 lead. Ben Francisco added a solo homerun in the sixth.
“It was two outs, I had a good lead, I’m ready to score on anything and I saw the ball hit the pitcher and it was kind of far from everybody, I had the momentum and kept on going,” Polanco said.
In a Phillies offense that seems to find a variety of ways to produce, Howard, who is batting a torrid .524 in his first five games of the season, has been anchor for Phillies.
“Anytime you have your cleanup hitter that hot, it’s good,” Polanco said. “Most of the time, you’re going to have guys on base. It’s good to have him that hot and I hope he stays that way.”
While the starting pitching faltered with the one big inning for the Mets, the relievers shut the Mets down the rest of the way. Antonio Bastardo got the last two outs, after the Mets tied the game. He got the win for the Phillies. J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras did not allow the Mets to score a run over the final 4 2/3 innnings of the game.
“The bullpen pitched really good and the people coming behind me and I know they’re doing their best job and they do good work,” said Bastardo.