Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco has been in the majors for quite a while and it comes as no surprise that he's on the doorstep of the 2,000-hit mark.
Polanco needs just one hit to become just the 17th active player to join the illustrious club and looks to get it over with tonight in the opener of a quick two-game series versus the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. Polanco did not start in Sunday's series-clinching 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres, but lined out in a pinch-hitting role during the seventh inning.
"It means a lot," Polanco said on the club's website about reaching the milestone. "I've been lucky enough to have played since 1998. I've played in good organizations. It means a lot and maybe someday I'll look back at all the hits and really appreciate it."
The Phillies took two of three from the Padres after losing all three meetings with the New York Mets in the previous series. Using a pink bat for Mother's Day with his mom and wife in attendance, Phillies veteran outfielder Juan Pierre ripped an RBI double in the fifth inning to give his club some breathing room. Pierre finished with two hits and backup catcher Brian Schneider went 2-for-2 with an RBI and scored on Pierre's hit.
Jimmy Rollins added a leadoff homer -- the 38th of his career -- for Philadelphia, which is still last in the National League East.
Cole Hamels benefited from the clutch hitting and improved to 5-1 after he allowed one run on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts, lowering his earned run average to 2.28. Hamels was back in action following a five- game suspension for purposely hitting Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper in the back on May 6 and admitting to it.
"He's doing good. They worked him pretty good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Hamels.
Phillies pricey new closer Jonathan Papelbon struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his 10th save in as many opportunities.
Taking the mound for the Phils tonight will be Joe Blanton. Blanton hasn't lost at Citizens Bank Park since May 8, 2010 versus Atlanta. He's 7-0 in 20 home appearances (18 starts) since then. For his career, Blanton is 16-6 in south Philly. The right-hander did not record a decision in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to the Mets in which he allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings with seven K's.
Blanton is 3-3 with a 3.24 earned run average in seven games (6 starts) this season and 2-0 in three outings in the City of Brotherly Love. In four career meetings, three of which have been starts, with Houston, Blanton owns a 1-0 mark to go along with an even 3.00 ERA.
Houston has lost two in a row and five of seven games since ripping off five straight wins, and dropped two of three meetings at Pittsburgh over the weekend to kick off a five-game road trip.
In Sunday's 3-2 setback in 12 innings, Josh Harrison singled home Clint Barmes for the game-winning run off Fernando Rodriguez. Barmes double with two outs and hustled home on Harrison's single to left field, sending Rodriguez to the loss column for the fourth time this season (1-4).
Wandy Rodriguez's effort was wasted on the mound, as the Astros' starter delivered eight innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts. He scattered three hits and issued only one walk for the no-decision. Jason Castro had two hits and an RBI, Carlos Lee went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and Chris Johnson knocked in a run for Houston.
"The last few innings, we didn't get a hit," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "That's kind of tough to try to string something together."
Perhaps a 29-minute rain delay took its toll on the Astros.
Getting the call for Houston tonight will be Lucas Harrell. Harrell did not factor in the outcome of Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Miami, as he was reached for three runs -- two earned -- and six hits in 5 1/3 frames. He was coming off a win the previous time out versus St. Louis and is 2-2 in seven starts to go along with a 4.58 earned run average.
Harrell, a righty, has never faced Philadelphia in his career and is 0-2 in four road starts this season.
The Astros and Phillies are meeting for the first time this season, and Philly won four of six matchups a year ago. The Phils swept a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park last April 1-3.