The Phillies have dropped four of five at home against the AL - including their first two against Toronto - and they’ll try to reverse their fortunes on Thursday as they look to avoid being swept by the Blue Jays.
Toronto (36-31) was struggling in interleague play heading into this series. But after going 0-6 against the NL, the Blue Jays seem to have righted themselves.
Manager Cito Gaston’s club scored five runs in the 10th inning Tuesday to pull out an 8-3 win, and the offense stayed hot early Wednesday. Toronto scored three times in the first inning and later got home runs from Rod Barajas(notes), Aaron Hill(notes) and former Phillie Scott Rolen(notes) en route to a 7-1 victory.
“This was not a good day, but they went out and played hard,” Gaston said.
The loss was the fourth against an AL East opponent since Friday for Philadelphia (36-27), which fell to 13-18 at home. The defending World Series champions are a major league-best 23-9 on the road.
“Over 162 games, there are some when you don’t have much life,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We just couldn’t get going tonight.”
Philadelphia was 19-12 at Citizens Bank Park through 31 games last season, and Manuel’s team was hitting .272 at that point. The Phillies’ average at home is down to .249 in 2009, but the bigger concern is their reeling pitching staff.
Philadelphia’s rotation has a 5.35 ERA and has allowed 53 homers through 31 games, as opposed to a 3.82 ERA and 33 homers allowed at the same point a year ago. Those numbers have Manuel clamoring for a top-line starter prior to the July trade deadline.
“I want a horse,” Manuel told the Phillies’ official Web site. “I’m not talking about a guy you’re just going to fill out a rotation with. I don’t want the same type of pitchers that we have. I want somebody … that we’re going to put out there and he’s definitely going to help us.”
Joe Blanton(notes) (4-3, 5.17 ERA) has looked like a front-of-the-rotation pitcher lately. His overall numbers at home - 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA - aren’t impressive, but Blanton is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last four starts overall, striking out 28 in 27.0 innings.
Blanton gave up two runs in seven innings Friday against Boston in the Phillies’ 5-2 loss in 13 innings.
The right-hander, who spent his first four-plus seasons with Oakland, is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last three starts against Toronto.
Considered one of Toronto’s top prospects, Mills hasn’t put up impressive numbers in the minors this season. The left-hander was 1-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 13 starts with Las Vegas.
He was 13-5 with a 1.96 ERA between Single-A and Double-A last year.