Pine tar on Blanton’s cap?

Posted: October 27, 2008

Tonight, Joe Blanton's sharp command drew immediate attention from Tampa Bay's dugout. So, apparently, did the bill of his cap.

As first reported by mlb.com, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon told home-plate umpire Tom Hallion after the second inning that he believed Blanton had pine tar on his hat.

After the game, Maddon addressed the issue with the media. Asked if he noticed a dark spot on Blanton's cap, Maddon said: "We did notice, it was rather dark. I did bring it to their [umpires'] attention. I asked them to just watch it and be vigilant about it, and nothing happened. But I was concerned about it early on."

Hallion replied to Maddon that he would check the ball, and if he found a foreign substance on the ball, he would act on it. All this was apparently picked up from a television feed between innings.

"It's nothing," Blanton said after the game. "They rubbed balls up with whatever they rub them with. I'm contantly trying to get moisture. It's nothing sticky." Blanton then said of his cap: "Anybody can go touch it. It's just dirt from the ball."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wasn't aware of what Maddon was protesting about. At a postgame news conference, Manuel took his own cap off and pointed at the bill. "You can look at my cap, it's got the same kind of stuff he's [Maddon] talking about."

Of course, Blanton kept pitching, apparently kept the same hat, and was the star of Game 4, the object of "Let's Go Joe!" chants thundering around Citizens Bank Park.

Mlb.com reported that close-ups of Blanton showed a dark spot on the top of his cap.

Blanton had Rays batters fooled from the start, setting them down in order in the first inning, getting B.J. Upton to strike out looking and Carlos Pena to pop out to Carlos Ruiz. In the inning, Blanton threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes.

Tampa Bay's only two runs off Blanton came off solo home runs. He pitched to one batter into the seventh inning before exiting, having yielded four hits and two walks. Blanton struck out seven.

Rays sluggers Evan Longoria and Pena continued their Series-long hitless streak. Neither got the ball out of the infield against Blanton.

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