Former Wildcat Blanton to start Game 4

PHILADELPHIA -- Former Kentucky right-handed starting pitcher Joe Blanton has drawn the starting assignment for Game 4 of the 2009 MLB World Series against the New York Yankees, it was announced by Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

Blanton will be making his second consecutive start in World Series Game 4, as he started and won Game 4 in the 2008 World Series, helping lead the Phillies to the World Championship. The game is set for 8:20 p.m. ET Sunday at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and it is assumed that Yankees manager Joe Girardi will start ace CC Sabathia against Blanton in the contest on short rest for the third straight start.

"I think Blanton fits for us (in Game 4) because I think we want to keep (left-hander J.A.) Happ right now in the bullpen, especially kind of in the middle where he could do some innings," Manuel said. "And also, Joe pitched last year in the World Series, and he's got a little bit more experience."

A 6-foot-3, 256-pounder, Blanton will make the start for the Phillies instead of forcing Game 1 starter Cliff Lee to go on short rest. A graduate of Franklin-Simpson High School in Franklin, Ky., Blanton's World Series start last year was historic for several reasons, as he went six innings of two-run ball, allowing only four hits and fanning seven Tampa Bay Rays hitters. Most remarkably, Blanton belted a 2-1 offering from Edwin Jackson over the left-field fence for his first professional home run and the first homer hit by a pitcher in the World Series since 1974. The home run marked Blanton's first since his days at Franklin-Simpson.

"That's just luck. Maybe I'll get lucky again," Blanton joked referencing his homer in the fall classic last year. "But the odds of lightning striking twice are probably not very good."

In the 2009 regular season, Blanton started exclusively for the Phillies, pitching in 31 games and totaling a 12-8 record and a 4.05 ERA, tossing 195.1 innings, striking out 163 and walking 59. During a 2009 mid-season span (June 24-Sept. 5), he went 5-3 with a 2.52 ERA and limited opponents to a .243 batting average.

The Series sits in a 1-1 tie after the teams split the first two contests at the new Yankee Stadium in New York. Lee tossed a gem in Game 1, going a complete-game without allowing an earned run. Thursday night, New York responded with a 3-1 win over the Phillies to even the series headed back to Citizens Bank Park.

In the National League Championship Series, Manuel called on Blanton to start Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Blanton went six innings and allowed three earned runs. In the first round of the playoffs, Manuel used Blanton in relief twice, against the Colorado Rockies.

A UK letterwinner from 2000-2002, Blanton pitched in 55 career games for UK and head coach Keith Madison. During his junior campaign, he posted a 5-7 record and a 4.59 ERA in 14 starts, fanning 133 in 100 innings. After the 2002 year, Blanton went in the first round to the Oakland Athletics, going 24th overall. Last season, Blanton was traded from the Athletics to the Phillies, as Philadelphia bolstered its pitching staff for its post-season run.

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