Philadelphia's starting rotation has been stuck in a bit of a tailspin since ace Roy Halladay went down with a shoulder injury late last month, but who would have thought Joe Blanton would be the one to step up and deliver a sterling performance? Not Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, that's for sure.
Blanton pitched his second complete game of the season led the Phillies to a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night. Blanton (6-6) gave up seven hits and struck out seven while going the distance for the eighth time in his career, snapping an ugly string of five straight starts with at least five runs allowed.
"That was a very pleasant surprise," Manuel said of the former Athletics ace, who was 1-3 with a 9.91 ERA in his previous five starts. "It's good for him to finish the game and everything. That's good. He threw strikes all night and he made big pitches when he had to. He changed speeds very good. He did a good job."
Perfect umpire: Ted Barrett was behind the plate Wednesday night when Giants' right-hander Matt Cain pitched a perfect game against the Astros. The Los Altos High product also was the home plate umpire when David Cone threw his perfect game for the Yankees over the Montreal Expos on July 18, 1999. It makes Barrett the first major league umpire to call balls and strikes for two perfect games.
And if pitchers ask for Barrett, they might want Brian Runge as well.
Barrett said experience has showed him when he might be a witness to baseball history.
"As the game goes on, you look up on the board, you see zero hits and you see the guy's facing the minimum and you know he's throwing the ball pretty well, locating his spots," Barrett said. "And so, there's been a lot of times I've thought 'This guy, he could be unhittable tonight.'"
Rockies: All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will undergo a precautionary MRI after aggravating a groin injury in a rehab assignment. Tulowitzki took himself out of a game Wednesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs after feeling not quite right.
WBC: Joe Torre is returning to the dugout next year -- to manage the United States at the World Baseball Classic. Torre, who turns 72 next month, guided the New York Yankees to four World Series championships and managed the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2008-10. He is now Major League Baseball's Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations.
The tournament begins with qualifiers in September and November of 2012, with the U.S. team starting up in March.
Mets: Manager Terry Collins expects to hear by Friday about the long-shot appeal that could give R.A. Dickey a belated no-hitter. Dickey allowed only an infield single Wednesday night in a 9-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, and the team is asking the commissioner's office to overturn the official scorer's decision on B.J. Upton's hit.