Blanks provides bright spot in Friars' loss
Rookie slugger to see plenty of action; Correia hit hard
PHILADELPHIA -- While there's no way to quantify just how much playing time Padres rookie Kyle Blanks will get in the final two-plus months of the regular season, it's safe to assume one thing about the big first baseman/outfielder.
You're going to see a lot more of him.
Blanks had two hits Thursday, including his second Major League home run, which were essentially lost in the rubble of another loss, this time a 9-4 setback to the Phillies in front of a sold-out crowd of 45,242 at Citizens Bank Park.
It was the 14th loss in the past 16 games for the Padres, who at 3-17 can't get the month of July over quickly enough. The timing hasn't been great, though the Padres' slow burn in the second half means more playing time for Blanks.
General manager Kevin Towers has said San Diego will use Blanks more over these final two-plus months, both at first base when Adrian Gonzalez takes a day off and in the outfield, where Blanks has proved proficient.
"You'll see the 22-year-old in him sometimes, and at other times, you'll see what he can become," Black said.
Blanks hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning on Thursday, cutting the Phillies lead to 4-3. Philadelphia (54-39) came back with four runs in the bottom of the inning against the Padres' most reliable pitcher, Kevin Correia, who allowed a season-high eight runs.
That proved far too much to overcome for a team that ranks last in the Major Leagues in runs and batting average.
But Blanks, who had a single in the second, provided the Padres (37-59) with the one thing they've lacked sorely in July -- instant offense, a two-run home run coming on one mighty swing on a Cole Hamels fastball.
The game on Thursday, a rescheduled game from a rainout on April 20 when Blanks was still with Triple-A Portland, marked the third consecutive start for the first baseman, who is learning on the go in the outfield.
Two days ago in San Diego, Blanks hit his first home run. The home run off Hamels (6-5) traveled 364 feet down the left-field line, staying just inside the foul pole. Blanks has raised his average 40 points in the past three days.
"I personally think it's real big," Blanks said of getting frequent starts. "I've never played well in a bench role before. I think that's tough on everyone. For me ... it's a lot easier to find a comfort zone when I'm playing."
Blanks said that he is much more comfortable at the plate than he has been at any time since he was promoted from Portland on June 19. It's not so much a change that he has made to his swing or anything mechanical but more so a level of comfort.
"I'm happy with how I feel now, it's kind of a feel thing," Blanks said. "I'm much more comfortable in the box. I've gotten back to something that has worked."
Blanks has had little problem getting comfortable in the Minor Leagues. In parts of five Minor League seasons, he's had a .304 average, a .393 on-base percentage and a .505 slugging percentage. Twice he's knocked in 100 or more runs.
"He's gaining valuable experience," Black said.
As for Correia (6-8), his start against the Phillies was an experience he certainly won't want to go through again. The eight runs he allowed were the most he's yielded in a game and the 3 1/3 innings marked his shortest start of the season.
"Going in, you know it's not going to be an easy task. They hit some good pitches and some mistakes," Correia said. "It seemed like everything they hit was a base hit."
Trailing, 1-0, Correia allowed a leadoff double to Jayson Werth in the second and then an RBI single to Pedro Feliz. Correia then got Carlos Ruiz to hit a ball to third base, where Kevin Kouzmanoff threw to second baseman Oscar Salazar, who was making his first start there since 2002.
Salazar got the force out on Feliz, but held onto the ball as the not-so-fleet footed Ruiz made it to first safely. The Phillies went on to score two more runs in the inning.
"It wasn't hit real hard, Feliz got down there pretty good," Black said. "It looks as though he [Salazar] didn't have a good handle on the ball to make an exchange. Off the bat, it wasn't scorched."
Hamels, aside from a three-run fourth, allowed four hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and two walks as the Phillies improved to 15-4 in July.
"In the fourth inning, I kind of got a little astray because I wasn't able to hit my spots," Hamels said. "You can't lose it for a whole inning. Luckily I was able to get it back for the next couple innings."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.