Joe Blanton's inspired seven innings paced the Phillies to a 3-1, series-clinching victory. Behind him, it was the same old story about a team that plays better baseball than the Marlins.
Attention to detail, or lack thereof, has kept the Marlins at an arm's length during the Phillies' division run. Granted, the Fish have had their share of setbacks to the starting rotation and bullpen over the years, but it's the level of execution that weighs heavily in the Phillies' favor every time these teams meet. Thursday was no exception. Defensively, the Phils were all over these guys: Freddy Galvis continued to shine at second; Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino locked down the outfield, Ty Wigginton had has best game as a Phillie, including a key stretch at first and a massive insurance run on a solo shot in the 7th. Additionally, the consistent play of Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco has been overshadowed by the 22-year-old next to them.
Mark Buehrle will have his day, but he was unimpressive in his debut, allowing eight hits, including the kiss of death from Wigginton. Meanwhile, Blanton took charge with one strike after another, none of it fast and much of it off-speed. This was probably his best night since late 2010.
The Phillies, traditionally, have maintained a bullpen edge in the rivalry. Chad Qualls might have pitched into trouble, but I've been pleasantly surprised by what I've seen this spring. Qualls was cool. Jonathan Papelbon was not. Clearly - visibly - he was anxious to put his first Citizens Bark Park save in the books.
The 3-3 Phillies host the Mets tonight.