Phillies' Blanton gets nod for Game 4

Updated: November 1, 2009, 2:43 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Blanton walked into Citizens Bank Park on Friday and got some news from manager Charlie Manuel. For the second straight year, he's starting Game 4 of the World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Blanton
Blanton

Manuel decided Game 1 winner Cliff Lee will pitch Game 5 on a full four days' rest Monday. If he pitched on Sunday, Lee would have been starting on short rest for the first time during his major league career.

"I think you're taking a chance on really pushing him," Manuel said. "Definitely we don't want to hurt him."

The World Series was tied 1-all as it shifted to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Saturday night. Manuel said if the Series goes seven games, Lee could be available for the finale.

"That would be on his bullpen day, and he might be able to pitch," the manager said.

Manuel also could have started left-hander J.A. Happ in Game 4, but the rookie will remain in a relief role.

"I think Blanton fits for us because I think we want to keep Happ right now in the bullpen, especially kind of in the middle where he could do some innings," Manuel said. "And also, Joe pitched last year in the World Series, and he's got a little bit more experience."

Lee, who allowed only an unearned run in the opener while pitching a six-hitter, said he would have started Game 4 if asked.

"We never went in depth in our conversation about it. I'm open to pitch whenever they want me to pitch," he said.

Still, he made clear he's a creature of routine.

"I like going every five days. To me the off-days kind of throw your routine off a little bit, so you've got to make those adjustments," he said.

Blanton started Game 4 against Tampa Bay last year and combined with four relievers on a five-hitter in a 10-2 win that gave the Phillies a 3-1 Series lead. Blanton homered off Edwin Jackson in that one, the first Series home run by a pitcher since Oakland's Ken Holtzman in 1974.

"That's just luck. Maybe I'll get lucky again," Blanton said. "But the odds of lightning striking twice are probably not very good."

Blanton, who threw a bullpen session Friday, was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA this season. He got a no-decision in his only postseason start, allowing three earned runs over six innings in Game 4 of the NL championship series against the Dodgers. He made two relief appearances against Colorado in the first round.

Blanton is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees, but hasn't faced them since June 2008. He has allowed 22 hits, including five homers, and 12 walks in 22 innings.

Eric Hinske, 4-for-18 (.222) with two doubles and two homers against Blanton, could play right field for New York in Game 4 over slumping Nick Swisher (1-for-3 against Blanton).

Mark Teixeira is 9-for-27 with three homers off Blanton, and Alex Rodriguez is 4-for-7 with two homers.

CC Sabathia appears set to start Game 4 on three days' rest for the Yankees -- he also started Game 4 of the AL championship series on short rest.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press