On Deck: Hello, Mr. Blanton

On Deck is FanHouse's look at the day's most intriguing baseball matchups

Dear Joe Blanton,

Sports Connection

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Hello there and welcome to your new home, the city of Philadelphia. It's a wonderful place to live, and I can't tell you how excited we are to have you as the newest member of the Philadelphia Phillies. I hope you enjoyed your flight to New York with your new teammates and got to know them pretty well, they'll be looking to you for support tonight.

Now, I don't want to put any added pressure on you, as I'm sure pitching on a new team is stressful enough, but tonight's game is rather important. You see, Joe, tonight we're playing our division rivals the New York Mets. They don't like us much. Something about us making up seven games in the standings last September and winning the division.

Seems the Mets are out for revenge this year, because in the last few weeks they've gobbled up all the space that was seperating us from them in the division, and now we're tied for first place with them. If we lose tonight, we'll be in second place.

We don't want this to happen, obviously, or else we wouldn't have traded for you! So go out there tonight and win us a ball game, would you? If you don't, I wouldn't bother coming back to Philadelphia with the team. The fans here are quite passionate, and they will kill you. Seriously.

No pressure!

Have a good night,
Pat Gillick

New York Mets (53-46) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (53-46) - 7:05PM Est.

So Joe Blanton will be thrown right into the fire tonight as he makes his first start as a Phillie in what is probably the most important series of the season so far for both Philadelphia and the Mets. The two teams are currently tied for first place in the NL East, and winning this series could be what separates the two teams for good going into the final months of the season.

Blanton struggled with the Athletics this season, going 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA, but he has fared well against the Mets in his career. Joe's made two starts against New York, and is yet to allow a run in 15 innings of work while striking out ten.

He'd be well served to continue that success tonight as he's going to be facing Johan Santana. Johan has been pretty un-hittable after the All-Star break in his career, and the Mets would like that trend to continue for them this season. Santana's coming off of his worst game of the season, as he allowed five runs in four innings against the Reds, but he's enjoyed pitching against the Phillies.

Santana has beaten them once already this season, and is 1-0 with a 2.75 ERA in three career starts.

Colorado Rockies (43-58) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (49-50) - 9:05PM Est.

I know you can't tell by looking at it, but somebody is going to win the NL West this season and get themselves a free pass to the playoffs this October. Of course, traditionally it's better when a division winner wins more games than it loses, but things don't always work out that way. Especially in the NL West.

Well, the Dodgers have the chance to reach .500 tonight, and could possibly take sole possession of first place if they do so. They'll be handing the ball to the recently recalled phenom that is Clayton Kershaw, who is still looking for that first career win. Kershaw went 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA in eight starts before being demoted to the minors, but his 2-0 record and 1.00 ERA in his last three starts at Jacksonville were enough to warrant him being called back up.

The Rockies will start Ubaldo Jimenez, and he's won three of his last four starts. He's also 2-0 in his career against the Dodgers in spite of the fact he has an ERA of 7.71 against them in his career. In his last start against LA, Jimenez gave up six runs in 2.1 innings, yet escaped a decision when the Rockies lost 8-7 in 13 innings.

Chicago White Sox (55-43) vs. Texas Rangers (52-48) - 8:11PM Est.

The Rangers offense is the most potent in baseball, yet coming out of the All-Star break their bats were held down by the Minnesota Twins in a three-game series. Luckily for Texas, another set of games with the White Sox seems to be doing the trick. The Rangers put up 26 runs in three games against the Sox before the break, and put another seven on the board against them last night.

Repeating that trick could be more difficult tonight, though probably not as difficult as the trick Chicago starter Mark Buehrle will try to pull off. The last time Buehrle took the mound against the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field he ended up throwing a no-hitter. I don't think he'll be repeating that performance tonight, but he has pitched well lately, going 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA since June 7th.

The Rangers will start Luis Mendoza who is making his second straight start against the White Sox. In his last one on July 11th, Mendoza lasted six innings and allowed only a run while striking out eight in a 7-2 Rangers victory.

Everybody Else

  • Orioles vs. Blue Jays - 7:05PM
  • Yankees vs. Twins - 7:05PM
  • Reds vs. Padres - 7:10PM
  • Marlins vs. Braves - 7:10PM
  • Rays vs. A's - 7:10PM
  • Astros vs. Pirates - 8:05PM
  • Royals vs. Tigers - 8:10PM
  • Cardinals vs. Brewers - 8:15PM
  • Diamondbacks vs. Cubs - 9:40PM
  • Angels vs. Indians - 10:05PM
  • Mariners vs. Red Sox - 10:10PM
  • Giants vs. Nationals - 10:15PM

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