Blanton Looks To End 1st Half on High Note

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Cincinnati Reds (49-38) at Philadelphia Phillies (44-40).
Mike Leake (6-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.27 ERA)

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't easy. But the Phillies pulled out a much needed victory in last night's 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds, thanks to Brian Schneider's walk-off home run. Hopefully tonight's game is a little more well-played, and a Phillies win can come easier.

Unfortunately, wins haven't come easy for Joe Blanton, but it would be nice to see him end the first half on a high note. He is 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in his last ten starts, however, the big right-hander has struggled all season long, as opponents are batting .294 against him. Many times, he has become a victim of a big inning for the opposition. Blanton needs to limit the damage and put his team into position to win. In addition, as witnessed last night, the bullpen can not always be relied on. The Phillies could use seven or eight innings from Blanton. With that being said, the Phillies also need to score more than four runs. They'll have to do that against Mike Leake.

Leake, who skipped the minor leagues completely, has had a solid rookie campaign. Leake had a stretch where he struggled, but overall he has pitched very well. Last week, the Phillies were able to figure him out, scoring six runs in six innings against him. It would be nice to see the Phillies do that again.

The Reds are contenders this year. They're going to continue to play the Phillies tough. The Phillies just have to keep up with them. For the Phillies to show that they are still in this race, they need to beat other first place teams. This is a perfect time for it.

Lineup: There are some late changes to both lineups: Wilson Valdez was scratched due to a sore left wrist, so Juan Castro is playing 2nd. Scott Rolen is out with a sore back, so Miguel Cairo is playing 3rd.


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