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World Series homer off Tampa Bay Rays still special to Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton

PHILADELPHIA — RHP Joe Blanton's first start of the postseason tonight in Game 4 is sure to be exciting, but it's going to take a lot to be more memorable than his last one.

That was Game 4 of last year's World Series, when he not only threw six solid innings in the Phillies' 10-2 rout of the Rays, but — in the fifth inning, off Edwin Jackson, with a nation as his witness — hit an actual home run.

"Fans bring it up quite a bit," he said. "It's a very special moment to be able to do that. … I enjoyed it but almost didn't get to because I was so worried about trying to bring myself back down to pitch and not letting myself get out of rhythm."

Blanton, 28, didn't get the ball back but was honored when the Hall of Fame asked for his bat. "Not everybody has the opportunity to have a piece of something they used to go in there," he said. "So it's very special that that went in there for me."

It's just that — being a pitcher and all, and with a career .111 average — he didn't expect it to be his bat.

"Maybe when I was 12," he said. "But since then, I think that would be the last thing I'd ever think would be in there."

THE WOLF PACK: Dodgers starting LHP Randy Wolf has lots of memories from his eight seasons with the Phillies, including throwing the first pitch in the inaugural game at Citizens Bank Park.

But even cooler was the kinship he developed with a group of fans who banded together as the Wolfpack, sitting in the upper deck for his home starts and wearing wolf masks.

"I know they'll be here (tonight), but I don't think they'll be in costume," Wolf said. "They're born and raised Philadelphians, and they're Phillies fans first and foremost. I think for the sake of their own lives, they'll keep that under wraps."

MISCELLANY: RF Jayson Werth passed Mike Schmidt to become the Phillies' all-time leader in postseason extra-base hits (14). … Of the 29 teams to take a 2-1 NLCS lead, 20 won the series. … Former Phillies star C Darren Daulton, a longtime bay area resident, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he's leaning toward using LHP Cole Hamels on Wednesday.

World Series homer off Tampa Bay Rays still special to Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton 10/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2009 1:56pm]
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