You talked about this a little the other day, but what's the key to handling the bottom of their lineup and how much pressure does it put on a pitcher to have a guy like Casey Blake, who might be hitting fifth or sixth in another lineup, coming out of the eighth spot?
JOE BLANTON: It definitely makes it a lot tougher, but it's one of those things where you have to keep focus through their whole lineup. You don't get that six, seven, eight where you can get into a nice groove, not really let up, but kind of go right through that part of the order. This lineup is a very good one, and you don't have the luxury of doing that, and you've got to treat the eight hole pretty much like you do the four or five hole.
How tough is it, you've been a reliever this entire postseason, but been a starter almost your whole career. How tough is it to just put on the brakes on that reliever role and get right back into the starting role again?
JOE BLANTON: Not really. I mean, a couple days' notice, so you've got those days to get mentally prepped and get yourself ready to get back in that mode of going 100 pitches and cruising it out through.
Along those same lines, Charlie has been using you and J.A. Happ in that swing man role. Are you relishing that role? Do you enjoy it? And if so, what about it do you like?
JOE BLANTON: You know, it's part of the postseason. It's part of sometimes what makes it fun, guys getting put in roles that they're not really accustomed to, and you take it for what it is, try to help your team win, and do whatever it is that you need to do.
Following along those lines, would you say you are a player with ego? If somebody said, do you have a big ego? would you say yes to that or no to that? And the second question is do you consider yourself a player first and a pitcher second, or the other way around?
JOE BLANTON: You know, I'm the kind of guy, I'm going to do pretty much whatever it is they ask. They're not going to ask me to-"do you think you can throw out of the bullpen for us?" and I'm going to say no. I'm not going to be that guy that's going to do that. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help us win. If that means being in the bullpen or not throwing at all or whatever it is, I'm going to do as much as I can to help us win and help us achieve our goal that we've been working for all year.
I know you said you don't have any preference whether you started or were a reliever during this whole playoff run, but now that you are going to have a chance to start and going into tomorrow it's going to be a situation where you guys are down one and really have to win or it's a situation where you can take control of the series, how much do you enjoy having that kind of impact being a starting pitcher?
JOE BLANTON: It's kind of similar, maybe a little bit, to the same spot I was in last year. I started a lot of the fourth games last year. Fortunately we were up 2 1 in all of them last year, and like you said, it's a chance to really make a nice gap.
Either way, I mean, I feel like in the postseason every game is big. Like you said, it's 2 1 and it keeps it from coming back even, or you're down 1 2 and it's a big game to keep them from making that big step. So either way, it's a really big game.
At what point, if any, did you get a vibe that you were going to be the guy in Game 4?
JOE BLANTON: I didn't really even think about it. I just kind of kept-tried to keep the same attitude the whole way through the postseason, not really speculate on anything that I was going to do, maybe what inning I was going to throw or anything like that. I was just kind of being on call, I guess you could say, through the whole time I was in the bullpen. And the same thing when it came to those games when they maybe didn't know who was starting. I just didn't really even think about it. If I start thinking that I'm starting and I'm still in the bullpen, then I'm not mentally ready to do that. So I just kind of kept an open mind to whatever happened and then just went with it.
Charlie said before you came in here that one of the impressions you made last year is that in the playoffs, in one game against Milwaukee you threw an aggressive fastball, and in the second game against Tampa you were using sliders and change ups and various repertoires. Is that how you pitch? Could you react to that?
JOE BLANTON: Probably a little bit. I mean, I feel like I'm the type of pitcher I can do whatever. I'm not going to go out there and throw 95 miles an hour the whole game and that's my game. Or I'm not going to come out and throw soft the whole game. I kind of mix it up a little bit, depending on the team, depending on the hitter, maybe depending on what's working that day. There's a lot of factors.
That's why I like having four different pitches that I can go to. If one or two is not working I've still got a couple others that I can maybe try to get through the start with.
You're talking fastball, slider, change up and curve?
JOE BLANTON: Mm hmm.
Along that line, is there a time or a certain number of pitches where you make a decision about what's working for you that day?
JOE BLANTON: It's usually just kind of on the fly a little bit, really. Just as the game goes on. That doesn't necessarily mean if I have a good fastball and slider that I abandon the curveball and the change up. I still keep throwing them. But, you know, in situations if I know that's my best pitch and it's a tight situation, it narrows down what I'm going to go to.
Tomorrow is your first postseason start since the game where you hit the home run in the World Series. What do you remember about hitting the home run and what that was like? How often do people bring it up to you? And do you ever get the feeling that people remember what you did with the bat last October than what you did with your arm?
JOE BLANTON: Yeah. I guess fans bring it up quite a bit. It's a very special moment to be able to do that. Even now when I think back, I really just think about all the adrenaline I had after I did it and just trying to-I almost didn't-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 because I think still at that point it may have been like a 5 2 game or something like that, which is a couple guys on and a big swing and they're right back in the game. I didn't want that to happen.
So that's really what I remember is just trying to keep myself calm through the whole thing and how hard it was.
Just following up on that, did you get the ball back for that home run or anything?
JOE BLANTON: No, I never got it. I never got it, and the bat went to the Hall of Fame, which is nice. I mean, that's a huge honor for me to have something go in there. Not everybody has the opportunity to have a piece of something they used to go in there. So it's very special that that went in there for me.
Have you ever thought you'd be represented in the Hall of Fame by a bat, though?
JOE BLANTON: Maybe when I was 12, but since then, I think that would be the last thing I'd ever think would be in there.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.