It’s only been two starts but Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Joe Blanton appears to have actually made his comeback. He pitched six innings of one-run baseball Monday against “King’ Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners en route to a 4-1 win.
As I talked about in my latest post about Blanton, he was the last one of my comeback “kids” from this spring. So many older players were attempting to make comebacks this season such as Barry Zito, Johann Santana and Dontrelle Willis to name few, that I wrote a spring feature on them.
Blanton is so far the first and likely only one of my comeback “kids” to make it to the majors, let alone back to a starting role. He started out pitching in relief for the Royals but was bumped up to the rotation as the Royals’ starters began going down with injuries.
He was called up to the majors on May 16 and pitched well, making 15 appearances for Kansas City while posting a 1.80 ERA.
His first start for the Royals came a month later on June 16. He pitched five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits, no walks while striking out four batters against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Seattle Mariners were supposed to prove to be a tougher start for the 34-year-old, who at this time last year was out of baseball completely, especially with their ace “King” Felix on the mound.
Blanton retired 16 of the 18 batters he faced Monday, allowing just a solo home run to Nelson Cruz in the first and a double to Austin Jackson in the sixth inning. He never even pitched out of the stretch.
Royals’ manager Ned Yost removed him after Jackson’s double but it might not have even been necessary, Blanton was dealing so well. However, the Royals have a strong bullpen and the bullpen was able to finish out the game without incident.
The Royals got four runs on eight hits off of Hernandez. Three of those hits came from Alcides Escobar who also scored a run and recorded an RBI.
It was not to be as Joe Blanton, who’s ERA is now 1.73, got his second win of the season.
“I’m just riding it out and enjoying it. Probably even more than I enjoyed it before. Because I definitely appreciate it more. Being able to come back after time off,” Blanton said after the game, “makes it special.”