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October 26, 2008

Joe Blanton

Charlie Manuel


Q. Joe, let's start talking about your hitting. When was the last time you hit a home run? Do you even remember? And talk us through that at-bat?
JOE BLANTON: Just probably a senior in high school. That was probably the last time I hit before I even got here. As far as the batting goes, I just close my eyes and swing hard in case I make contact, that's really the only thing I can say.
CHARLIE MANUEL: He said he got mad because I kept putting "take" on him.

Q. Joe, people could say you're the X factor in the postseason for the Phillies, every time you've taken the hill you've won. You've given them a chance to win. Talk about the importance of pace, and the up and down that most of your starts are, where you get it done and you get them back in the dugout?
JOE BLANTON: You know, I guess you can say it all starts with Ruiz. He's done such a fantastic job of catching. A, calling the game, he just seems locked in back there. And he gets me in a nice rhythm, gets the fingers down and allows me to work. I don't have to really think about anything, almost be a machine, just throw the pitch up there. He's done such a good job.
And the offense, seems like every time I go out and pitch, they're giving me a run early. And when you get hitting like that and knowing they're going to produce, it makes you a little more comfortable.

Q. Both for Joe and Charlie: Can you talk about how you feel in your position, I know you're not going to declare victory, you have to win four. Charlie, what would you tell your team about not getting too confident? And Joe, how do you feel about being up 3-1?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Same thing I've been telling them about seven months. We've got a game tomorrow. We played today to win the game. We did. We've got a game tomorrow. We're going to play that game to win. And we take it one day at a time. I've been saying that now, I'm sure, people around here are getting tired of it. I say that every day. And I try to tell that to Joe, and we sell it to all of our players, and that's kind of how we play. We're going to give everything we got and put it into tomorrow 's game, all the effort we possibly can.
JOE BLANTON: It's definitely not over until it's over. When you're facing a team like this, anything can happen if you let down your guard. I think the rest of the guys know that.
Like he said, what he talks about every day, just go out and play the game hard and play the game right.

Q. For both of you guys: Were you aware of their concerns about Joe's hat? And Joe, what do you have on that dark spot on your hat?
JOE BLANTON: It's nothing. They rub the balls up with whatever they rub them up with, and you rub it up and get it on your hand and I'm constantly trying to get moisture, and just touch my hat. It's nothing sticky. Anybody can go touch it. It's just basically just dirt from the ball that gets -- over time, over so many starts, I don't change my hat, it just gets rubbed on the hat.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually I didn't know what Joe was talking to the umpire about. If you look at my hat, see right there, it's got the same kind of stuff he's talking about. That right there is the fact that I haven't changed hats all year.

Q. Charlie, did you see kind of relaxation or kind of a weight off once Howard's first home run left the park, that there's some breathing room and, again, you kind of had been going through the same kind of struggles with runners in scoring position the first couple of innings?
CHARLIE MANUEL: When he hit the three-run homer, that was big, and it got everybody -- that was kind of a lift, but at the same time I think we didn't get overexcited. I mean, we still knew that we had some game to play. We just took it in stride. And like we were trying to add more runs to the board.
And Joe's homer put it -- he got one of those solos that he gave up back, so we got a four-run lead and we kept adding on and we end up winning the game.

Q. Charlie, did you think that was gamesmanship on Maddon's part to even raise the issue with Hallion about Blanton's hat?
CHARLIE MANUEL: No, that didn't bother me, no, not at all. Where was that at? I asked him to get in the box? It was in Miami. Like all of a sudden that came across as that's the first time I've ever did that, and it came across like that I was picking, nitpicking and whatever.
But, no, I didn't even think nothing about it.

Q. If, in fact, you did have your eyes closed when you swung, when did you open them?
JOE BLANTON: I think when I went out and had to throw the next warm-up pitch in the next inning?

Q. Charlie, people can talk so much about runners in scoring position, but when you guys have the power that you do to hit so many home runs, get so many runs off home runs, how comforting is that for you as a manager in the dugout?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We always have a chance to score. During the season I talk to our team a lot, and I think what's good about our team is, if our starting pitching, Joe probably will tell you the same thing, but when our starting pitching can take us through the first part of the game, and if something happens like that, we don't score runs, we're very capable of putting up a crooked number on you, like three, five or have a six-run inning; we're never out of the game. And we will come back on you. We'll fight you until the game's over.

Q. PeƱa and Longoria are 0-for-29, with 16 strikeouts, is that the scouting reports? Is that your pitchers?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'll say this, our scouting reports have been very accurate. They've been very good. And I don't even want to talk about those guys making outs.

Q. You've been getting questions about Ryan Howard for some time, and you were fairly steadfast that he'll be fine, brushing those questions off. When you see him lock in and have this kind of day today, I don't want to use the word "relief," but to see him be able to put runs on the board with one swing, it obviously changes your offense. What was your sense today?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Ryan Howard, went for the last three years -- in baseball, there's a difference between great hitters and real, real great hitters, and I mean this, too. I look at Ryan Howard, he's a carrier. And a carrier is somebody that can take your team and get the big hits and knock in runs, and he can put you on your back and he can carry you. And that's one of my favorite statements. And Howard, he's a carrier. You can say anything you want to, but his numbers sit there for you to look at. He's a guy that might strikeout four times in a row, but he's always dangerous. And it might be that one pitch that he follows good, and he gets a good pass at it, and when it gets up in the air it comes down behind the fence. I always say that a home run, it's nothing more than a well-hit fly ball that comes down behind the fence. That's your greatest hit in baseball, you come back and sit down and work on getting another one, when you go up to hit. And Howard does a pretty good job of those things?

Q. How critical has it been that each of your starters have gotten into the sixth or seventh inning? And how has that been key for setting up the bullpen for the late innings?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That's absolutely how a regular game for us is designed. And like when we can get to the seventh inning, I feel very good about our bullpen. But when our pitchers can get us through sixth or seventh innings, that sets the stage for us to close out the game.

Q. Joe, talk about what might have been the bigger thrill, hitting that home run or hearing the crowd when you were coming off the field? And how much does it mean to you knowing that this victory puts your team up 3-1?
JOE BLANTON: I would have to say when I'm coming off the field, because that means -- my job's not to go out and hit home runs or get hits, my job is to go out and throw the ball well and give our team a chance to win. And when you get the applause coming off the mound from pitching, you kind of get that sense of I've done my job for the day, and have given our team the chance to win.

Q. Ryan seems to be seeing the ball a lot better, what's made the difference for him the last couple of days, especially with breaking balls on the outside?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's patient and he's been staying on the ball. If you go ask him he'll probably tell you he's relaxed and seeing the ball better. The reason he is, he's slowed down and started concentrating on following the ball. And probably looking for pitches to hit instead of guessing. And he's looking good. He's got his time and his weight shift is good, his balance was good tonight.

Q. You said that you try to take it one game at a time and it's not over until it's over, but tomorrow Cole Hamels has the ball. How confident are you that your No. 1 guy has the ball in his hand and the chances of closing this out?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Same thing I say every time somebody asks me about it: Every time he goes out I think he's going to win the game. He's capable of shutting somebody out, and also I think of him as throwing no-hitters at times. I've got a lot of confidence in him.

Q. Joe, when they made the trade, I'm sure you sensed it the first couple of weeks, there was a lot of ambivalence from this town about who you were, what you could do. Does that add to the satisfaction, particularly in postseason, but even in September, what you've been able to do for this team? Do you get an added kick out of that?
JOE BLANTON: Not really so much. I feel like when I go out and take the mound I try to give the team a chance to win. That's my whole goal. If we score six runs that day, I hope I give up five or less. If I give up five and we get a win, I'm happy with that day. Obviously I want to improve and get better, but at the end of the day if the team won when I pitched you get that sense of you did your job that day. It may not have been the best you could have done, but it may have been good enough, and that's the fortunate thing about pitching for this team with the hitters we have. You always feel in the game.

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