Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Joe “Heavy B” Blanton was not to be outdone in Game Four of the World Series. After giving up a solo home run to Tampa Bay Rays pinch-hitter Eric Hinske in the fifth inning, he returned the favor by hitting his own solo shot in the bottom of the same inning.
Blanton was just the 15th pitcher to hit a home run in the World Series—1974 was the last time.
“I guess I just stuck to my same approach to hitting since I got here,” Blanton explained as he spoke about his home run. “Close my eyes and swing hard in case, you know, something good happens. You know, it’s better to be lucky than good, I guess.”
Oh Joe, it’s not about luck at this point. This is the World Series, and the best team will win.
The Phillies are now up 3-1 after the 10-2 lopsided victory over the Rays.
Blanton set the tone early with a three-up, three-down first inning. In the bottom of the inning, a questionable decision by Rays’ starter Andy Sonnanstine to not throw to second base for an easy double play, combined with a botched call by third-base umpire Tim Welke, led to a bases-loaded walk that scored the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins.
Replays showed that Rays' third baseman Evan Longoria tagged Rollins. Fans were treated to a giggle-inducing freeze frame of Longoria’s glove resting on Rollins backside just for good measure.
It’s a bit disturbing, witnessing all the incorrect calls during the biggest series of the year. The wealth is spread all around the umpiring team and, in Game Four, the call was the first mistake that benefited the Phils. Of course, fans want a fair game, but once the error didn’t hurt the Phillies, Philadelphia fans were able to throw their hands up and say, “Finally!”
In the end, the missed call would not have made a difference, as the Rays lost by eight runs.
Even with the barrage of hits, Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell has yet to break out of his World Series slump. It's actually extremely pleasing to see Burrell regularly occupying the top step of the dugout, ready to congratulate teammates on a job well done. However, fans are wondering when "The Bat" is going to show up.
While Burrell is still MIA, it’s a relief to see the Phillies' bats awaken. Ryan Howard and Rollins, the notable slumping players, performed well tonight. They went 3-for-4 and 3-for-5, respectively.
Howard put an exclamation point on his declaration that he was back (stated in Game Three with a home run) by going yard twice and earning five RBI. The first baseman credits his success in Game Four to staying calm and focused.
“I just stayed within myself. Uh, I think a lot…was made of it a little early, but, you know, you go through, you know, little funks where things don’t go right,” explained Howard with sprinkles of verbal ticks. “I was taking it one game at a time and, you know, slowly and steadily… back to where I want to be.”
Rollins had five total bases and came inches away from hitting a homer of his own. Many are rooting for the reigning MVP to hit one in this series. Is there any better way for him to take his final bow as MVP than with a home run in the World Series? Home run or not, it’s great to see the shortstop back.
According to Rollins, “it was patience” that brought his bat back to life. Fans have been patient, too, and are happy that he’s back at the right time.
Before everyone puts on champagne goggles, there is still one more game that has to be won for Philadelphia. Similar to the previous games, Game Five will depend on pitching.
Call Citizens Bank Park “hitter-friendly,” but until the pitcher is hitter-friendly, the ballpark won’t be able to illustrate that reputation. In Game Four, the Rays' pitchers were hitter-friendly, with four different pitchers giving up four home runs.
Both teams are so powerful that the outcome falls on the shoulders of the pitchers; whoever can harness the power of the opposing team will win. On the mound will be a rematch of Game One with Scott Kazmir up for the Rays and Cole Hamels starting for the Phillies.
Heed the advice of Phillies oracle Jimmy Rollins, "Coley-wood, don't miss it."
10 games down, one to go.
Non-baseball Baseball Notes
No, Jeanne, no: Jeanne Zelasko was wearing a purple leather jacket over a lavender top that was peeking out of the bottom of her jacket. Who is her stylist and why does (s)he hate Jeanne?
High-socks watch: A few high-socks sightings, but the important one was Joe Blanton. Oh, the previous hometown team player, consistent high-socks wearer Blanton. He will always occupy a special place in my sports-loving heart because he played in Oakland, and he wears the high socks.
Not even for the lineups: C’mon Fox. This is the World Series. Can we please see the ballplayers lineup on the field during player introductions? For many of these guys, this will be their last World Series. How about showing some respect and gratitude?