LOS ANGELES -- Tuesday's start against the Dodgers would appear to be another crucial one for Joe Blanton and his 6.19 ERA. Jered Weaver is rejoining the Angels' rotation the next day, Tommy Hanson is expected to return to the staff later this week and long reliever Jerome Williams -- 2.58 ERA on the year, 3.19 ERA in five starts -- has made a case to stay in the rotation.
The perception is that Blanton really has something to prove, even after bouncing back with 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a win against the Royals on Thursday.
Blanton would disagree.
"I don't have anything to prove," he said "This is my ninth [full season]. If I have to prove something my ninth year … you know, obviously I want to throw the ball well. Especially being on a new team, everything looks different because you don't have any background with the team."
Asked how he was able to bounce back his last time out, Blanton laughed and said: "They hit balls at people."
But he isn't joking.
Blanton acknowledges that he "really didn't throw the ball well at all the first three games of the year."
"But scratching those," he added, "I feel like I've pretty much thrown the ball the way I want to throw. Stuff's been fine, and they've just hit balls where people aren't. There's nothing you can do about that."
After being charged with 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings through his first three starts, Blanton turned it around, going at least six innings in each of his next four outings -- three of which were quality starts -- and posting a 4.05 ERA in that span. Then, just before capturing his first victory at Kauffman Stadium four days ago, the 32-year-old right-hander hit another rut, giving up 11 runs and 23 hits in nine innings of a two-start span.
But Blanton, a pitch-to-contact guy by nature, points out that 19 of those hits were singles and he doesn't believe that the rough patch is a true indication of the way he's been pitching lately.
"It's like a hitter when he goes up and he's 0-for-4 and he's hit four line drives right at somebody," he said. "On paper, he's 0-for-4, but he had good swings that day. It's kind of that way."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.