Originally posted on Buzz On Broad  |  Last updated 5/3/12

Above: Joe Blanton's final line for the game, somehow not photoshopped

Sometimes, your ace blows a 6 run lead and allows 12 hits and 8 earned runs in 5.1 innings. Sometimes, your much-maligned offense scores 13 runs, and it's still not enough. Sometimes, your bullpen gets stretched to the limit.

Sometimes, you need a stopper.

That's why the Phillies have Joe Blanton. Obviously.

Blanton came up big, allowing just 3 hits and shutting down an Atlanta Braves lineup that had scored 15 runs barely twelve hours earlier.

How impressive was that feat? The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb put it into perspective:

The Phillies' fifth starter threw his first shutout in 1,797 days in a 4-0 victory over Atlanta. The game was completed in 2 hours and 2 minutes. Blanton required just 88 pitches and 67 of them were for strikes in the three-hitter. It was the fewest pitches for a Phillies pitcher to toss a shutout since Mike Grace's 84 on Sept. 2, 1997.


That's impressive no matter how you look at it, but it's even more impressive considering the circumstances. The Phillies' bullpen was exhausted from the 11 inning extravaganza on Wednesday night, and there was no telling how a tired, Carlos Ruiz-less lineup that had put up big numbers last night would respond on little rest. The team needed an effort like this to avoid decimating the bullpen any further, and to avoid letting what looked like a sure series victory slip away.

Blanton delivered, the Phils took 2 of 3 from the Braves and now we can all look forward to seeing how many Phillies fans managed to get past the Great Nationals Park Ticket Embargo of 2012.

The Phils take on the Nats in Washington in a three-game series, starting tomorrow night at 7:05pm.

Quick hits after the jump.

QUICK HITS (told ya!)
  • Blanton's superb effort comes on the heels of a 7.1 inning, 2 run showing against the Cubs last Saturday. In that game, the Phillies were also coming off a disappointing 5-1 loss (to freaking Paul Maholm, as usual) the day before, meaning Big Joe has played the stopper role in back to back starts.
  • The Phillies' offense, which put on quite the fireworks show in a losing effort last night, wasn't quite as spectacular today, but still managed to put up 4 runs on 9 hits, including 2 home runs. They weren't exactly putting up crooked numbers, but this was another encouraging sign that the offense is at least approaching adequacy after a rough start to the season.
  • Also encouraging? The Phillies played some small ball in the first inning to take a quick lead. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a single and reached second on a bunt from Juan Pierre. After advancing to third on a flyball out from Shane Victorino, Rollins scored on Hunter Pence's sacrifice fly. More of this, please.
  • Laynce Nix continued his recent tear and now leads the Phillies in batting average. "When the Phils signed him, we totally expected that this would be the case," said no one, anywhere. Nix went 2 for 3 with a 2-out, solo home run in the 7th inning. He's batting .342 on the season.


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