With the season winding down, the Philadelphia Phillies need Joe Blanton(notes) to continue being a solid contributor from the back of the rotation while looking to secure their fourth straight NL East title.
Blanton will take the mound as first-place Philadelphia opens a three-game series against the Florida Marlins on Monday.
After missing the opening month of the season with an oblique injury, and struggling through mid-June, Blanton (6-6, 5.15 ERA) is 5-1 with a 4.16 ERA in his last 16 games. However, the right-hander failed to record a decision against the Marlins on Tuesday after allowing four runs - two earned - and six hits in 6 1-3 innings of Philadelphia’s 8-7 win.
Blanton is 4-2 with a 3.35 ERA, and has struck out 42 in 43 innings over seven career starts against Florida.
Philadelphia (83-61), which holds a one-game lead over Atlanta in the division, has won 6 of 7 against the Marlins, and is 15-10 versus them in 2010.
“If we finish up and win series the rest of the year, we’ll be good. That’ll put us in a very good spot,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins(notes) has been out since leaving Wednesday’s 10-6 win over the Marlins with a tight right hamstring, but Ryan Howard(notes) has been picking up the slack. The slugging first baseman drove in a run for the fifth straight game Sunday, and is hitting .409 (9 for 22) with three home runs and 11 RBIs over that span.
The Marlins (73-69) will send Andrew Miller(notes) (1-1, 6.16) out for his fourth start of the season. The southpaw was inserted into the rotation after a torn meniscus ended Ricky Nolasco’s(notes) season.
Miller got knocked around by the Phillies on Wednesday, surrendering seven runs and 11 hits in four innings. He is 0-4 with a 5.58 ERA and 19 walks in 30 2-3 innings over five carer starts against Philadelphia.
Rookie Mike Stanton(notes) hit his 19th and 20th home runs for the Marlins in a 6-5 win over Washington on Sunday. Stanton is tied for second in the National League with 15 homers since the All Star break.
“He’s going to continue to get better as he gets older and more at-bats,” teammate Dan Uggla(notes) said . “It’s kind of mind-boggling to see what he’s doing at the age of 20. If we had brought him up at the beginning of the year, I think he could very easily have hit 30 or 35 - if not more than that.”
With 13 home runs, Uggla has also had a great second half, but is 3 for 17 with five strikeouts in his career against Blanton.