The Philadelphia Phillies just put one of their top starting pitchers on the disabled list, and their bats are suddenly slumbering.
In light of those developments, it would help if No. 5 starter Joe Blanton can step up his game.
Blanton takes the mound at Petco Park on Sunday afternoon for the Phillies to face the San Diego Padres, who will aim to salvage a four-game series split.
Usually potent, the Philadelphia offense has struggled this week, totaling nine runs and batting .193 while the team has dropped three of five. The Phillies (7-8) managed to win the first two games of this series by limiting the Padres (4-12) to one total run, but were held to one run and three hits Saturday night against San Diego's Cory Luebke and Huston Street and fell 5-1, snapping their 13-game winning streak at Petco Park that dated to August 2008.
The Phillies scored their lone run with two outs in the ninth when Ty Wigginton doubled home Jimmy Rollins, but they went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and are 7 for 42 (.167) in RBI situations over their last five games.
"It concerns me when we don't score runs,'' manager Charlie Manuel said. ''We don't have anyone who has any stats in terms of run production. We're 15 games in and we have a long, long way to go.''
Yonder Alonso had an RBI double and also scored the game's first run after Phillies ace Roy Halladay walked the bases loaded in the second inning.
"He's one of the best pitchers in history and he's a guy that I can probably talk to my kids one day and say I had a double off of him, with an RBI, and I had a walk, and he was battling and I felt like I was grinding some at-bats with him. It was a lot of fun today,'' Alonso said.
While Halladay suffered his first loss, the Philadelphia rotation took a bigger hit after Cliff Lee landed on the 15-day DL on Saturday with a strained oblique.
"We're being very cautious with this,'' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "'There's no reason for him to kind of completely blow it out because it's an injury that if he hurts himself and really pulls it, we could lose him for a long time. We'll shut him down, get him right and hopefully he'll miss only a couple of starts and go from there.''
With Lee on the shelf, the contributions of Blanton (1-2, 4.26 ERA) may take on greater importance.
After limiting Florida to one run over seven innings April 12 to win his first start of 2012, Blanton surrendered four runs and 11 hits in Tuesday's 4-2 defeat at San Francisco.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in five career starts versus San Diego.
Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin, who has tripled in each of the last two games and also stole a base Saturday, is 7 for 16 (.438) with two doubles and a triple off Blanton.
As the Padres try to win consecutive games for the first time this season, they'll give the ball to Anthony Bass (0-2, 3.38). The right-hander gave up a career-high three runs over five innings of Tuesday's 5-3 loss at Colorado.
Bass has made just one relief appearance against the Phillies, giving up one hit and striking out one in 2-3 inning last July in Philadelphia.
Despite Saturday's loss, Philadelphia is 24-5 at Petco since it opened in 2004.
- Joe Blanton
- San Diego Padres