Oct. 28, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Former Kentucky standout Joe Blanton became the first Wildcat pitcher to win a game in the World Series, tossing six innings and hitting a home run in a 10-2 Philadelphia Phillies win over the Tampa Bay Rays in game four of the 2008 MLB World Series, on Sunday night in front of 45,903 at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Blanton, a native of Ashland, Ky., and UK letterwinner from 2000-02, got the start in game four and excelled, working six innings, allowing four hits and two walks and striking out seven. Most remarkably, Blanton became the first pitcher to hit a home run in the World Series since 1974 and the 13th pitcher all-time to hit a roundtripper in the Fall Classic. Blanton’s home run on Sunday night marks his first career home run, or extra-base hit, in 34 career at-bats.

In the 104-year history of the Kentucky baseball program, five former pitchers have participated in a post-season game, with Blanton becoming the first to pitch in a World Series. Blanton, a 6-foot-3, 256-pound right-hander, joins Paul Kilgus (1989 Cubs), Jeff Parrett (1992 Athletics), Mark Thompson (1995 Rockies) and Brandon Webb (2007 Diamondbacks) as the only former Wildcats to pitch in a post-season game. Blanton’s win is just the second all-time in the MLB post-season for a former UK pitcher, as Webb notched a 1-1 record in two starts during 2007 with the Diamondbacks, working 13 innings and earning a 3.46 ERA.

During the post-season Blanton has worked 17 innings in three starts, posting a 2-0 record and a 3.18 ERA. Blanton, who was traded from the Athletics on July 17, has allowed 16 hits and six runs in the post-season, striking out 18 and issuing just six walks. During the regular season, Blanton tallied a 4.69 ERA and a 9-12 record in 33 starts, working 197.2 innings, striking out 111.

Former UK players have won a combined three World Series Championships, with former Cincinnati Red infielder Doug Flynn (1975) and Yankee great Jim Leyritz (1996, 1999) combining for the three championship rings.

Blanton, who did not have any career at bats on the collegiate level, posted ERAs of 5.58, 5.59 and 4.59 during his three seasons in Lexington. Blanton became the second Wildcat player all-time to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in 2002, as the Athletics nabbed him with the 24th overall pick.

Game five of the World Series sits in a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning after facing weather obstacles in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Philadelphia leads the series with the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1.

Pitchers with Home Runs in the World Series

Year Pitcher Team
2008 Joe Blanton Phillies
1974 Ken Holtzman Athletics
1970 Dave McNally Orioles
1969 Dave McNally Orioles
1968 Bob Gibson Cardinals
1968 Mickey Lolich Tigers
1967 Jose Santiago Red Sox
1967 Bob Gibson Cardinals
1965 Mudcat Grant Twins
1958 Lew Burdette Braves
1940 Bucky Walters Reds
1926 Jess Haines Cardinals
1924 Rosy Ryan Giants
1924 Jack Bentley Giants
1920 Jim Bagby Indians

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