Blanton not quite good enough in start for Phils
But that wasn't good enough.
Charlie Manuel chose Blanton over Cliff Lee to start Game 4, and it didn't take long for the Yankees to welcome Manuel's decision. They scored twice in the first, then twice more in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie.
Blanton wasn't terrible by any means - he allowed only five hits and struck out seven through six innings - but with the Phillies' offense held in check by CC Sabathia, Blanton needed to keep the Yankees from breaking out.
That went out the window right away, with Derek Jeter's infield single and Johnny Damon's double starting the game and quieting the Citizens Bank Park crowd. Blanton did well to escape that inning with only those two Yankees scoring, both on outs - Mark Teixeira grounded to first to score Jeter and Jorge Posada hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Damon - and he got bonus points for being the third Phillies pitcher in two games to hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch.
But it still was not the start the Phillies needed.
The Phillies clawed back for two runs to tie it, and if Blanton could have kept it even through six innings, that would have been more than Manuel could have asked for. The Phillies righthander retired 11 straight to get to the fifth, including five strikeouts, four of them looking. Blanton did benefit from a very low strike zone from plate umpire Mike Everitt.
But a four-pitch walk to Nick Swisher leading off the fifth undid Blanton's good work. Melky Cabrera singled off Blanton's glove and then Jeter and Damon found holes for run-scoring singles to put the Phillies behind again.
Manuel and Lee didn't seem to be on the same page regarding the manager's decision to go with Blanton instead of Lee, who would have been pitching on short rest. Blanton pitched out of the bullpen in the Division Series and got a no-decision in Game 4 of the NLCS.
"It was a pretty quick conversation, him asking me if I had ever done it and me telling him no and saying that I think I could," Lee said. "I think I could do it, but he makes the calls."
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