Blanton improving so far this spring

Encouraging words from Matt Gelb.

Joe Blanton knows the 5th starter’s spot isn’t a lock heading into this season. But he does have the advantage over Joel Pineiro and Kyle Kendrick and he’s taking advantage of that opportunity.

Looking to erase a poor 2011 as well as focus on a contract year, 2012 is going to be the most important year of the 31-year-old’s career as he nears the end of his prime.

Blanton was excellent in three innings of work, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out three in the Phillies 1-0 loss against the Baltimore Orioles.

Blanton was using his change-up quite a bit, tweeted David Hale, as well as forcing batters to make low-quality swings. He did allow five base runners in the three innings, though.

Former Indians reliever Scott Elarton, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008, pitched well in relief after Blanton. He gave up a lead-off homer to Chris Davis before cruising through four innings without allowing a base running, striking out four.

Phils had a prime opportunity to tie the game in the 6th. They had runners on the corners with one out but Shane Victorino struck out and Jim Thome flew out to end the threat.


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