After league-worst 13th loss, is Blanton's job in jeopardy?

BY foxsports • July 22, 2013

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Right-hander Joe Blanton has made 20 starts this season for the Angels. You can count on one hand the number of times he's pitched well.
 
You count on two fingers the number of wins Blanton has.
 
So maybe Angels manager Mike Scioscia is finally nearing a decision on whether to keep sending Blanton to the mound. He wasn't prepared to say anything definitive Monday night after a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, but it's on his mind.
 
"We're going to sit back and look at some things," Scioscia said. "But we don't have to make that decision now, right?"
 
Not now, but soon. Blanton has struggled all season, losing a league-worst 13 times with a 5.66 ERA that ranks as the second-worst in the American League. No pitcher in the A.L. has given up more hits (157), allowed more runs (79) or yielded as many home runs (24) as he has.
 
His past two starts have been his shortest of the season, a four-inning stint July 14 at Seattle and Monday’s game in which he threw 90 pitches over 3 2/3 innings.
 
Scioscia was forced to use five relief pitchers after Blanton's exit, and with right-hander Tommy Hanson coming off the disabled list Tuesday night and set to work on an 80-pitch limit, the bullpen is stretched.
 
The Angels sent down left-hander Michael Roth to clear space for Hanson, but any options regarding Blanton are being tabled for the moment.
 
"I'm not going to go through options now," Scioscia said. "We're not going to make any decisions tonight. Michael Roth got sent down, and we'll activate Tommy Hanson tomorrow and see how things look going forward."
 
Blanton has just one win in his past 10 starts, hardly a positive sign for a team that needs to put together some winning streaks in order to contend for a playoff spot. But in what has become his usual postgame assessment, he said he threw well.
 
"I felt like I threw the ball fine today," he said. "Before the (All-Star) break, I had a couple of games where nothing was coming out right. But I threw a lot of borderline pitches tonight that you want calls on, but didn't (get), and it was kind of that game for us. An inch here or there is what made the difference."
 
It was undoubtedly a game of inches offensively. Hank Conger hit a ball leading off the seventh that missed clearing the fence in right by a couple of feet but wound up a triple. He was stranded there when Twins starter Samuel Deduno retired Erick Aybar and J.B. Shuck on strikeouts and got Mike Trout on a grounder to short.
 
In the eighth, pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta hit what appeared to be a three-run homer that would have given the Angels the lead, but left fielder Clete Thomas caught the ball above the wall for the third out.
 
"We pressured them as the game went on," Scioscia said. "We had a runner on third base with nobody out and couldn’t score, and those things came back to haunt us."
 
But nothing is haunting them more than Blanton, who can't seem to win and now may find his starting job in jeopardy.
 
"He threw a lot of pitches in the fourth inning," Scioscia said. "He was at 90 pitches and wasn't out of the fourth. With 11 base runners, things just weren't falling his way.
 
"He's out there trying. There's nobody trying harder than Joe, but it just didn't come together tonight."
 
It hasn't come together all season. What happens next is up to Scioscia.


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