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Lack of command stings Blanton in loss
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Royals fall at Houston, 6-1 - photo by

HOUSTON— Maybe Joe Blanton himself said it best.

“It was just that kind of day,” the righty said.

The Kansas City starter struggled with command early and often, walking four and allowing five runs in just 2 2/3 innings in the 6-1 loss to Houston on Monday night. It was his shortest start since joining the rotation and actually shorter than two of his relief stints this season.

For a bullpen arm the Royals were hoping to stretch out in Yordano Ventura’s absence, Blanton had done the job in his two previous outings. Then, he allowed just two runs in 11 combined innings, walking none in those two starts.

It wasn’t remotely the same against the Astros, and Blanton knew it right off the bat despite a 1-2-3 first inning.

“Pretty much from the outset, I felt it,” Blanton said. “Got lucky in the first inning, left some mistakes and they didn’t hit them. Later on, I wasn’t so fortunate.”

In the second inning, Blanton walked three straight hitters, including Domingo Santana with the bases loaded. Jason Castro added a deep RBI sacrifice fly, as the Astros only needed one hit to notch two runs.

Blanton said the command issue stemmed from his front half flying open before releasing the ball, and he couldn’t make enough of an in-game adjustment to stop the bleeding.

“Tried to stay closed and that didn’t help either, so it was really a back-and-forth night,” he said. “It doesn’t happen a whole lot to me, but I couldn’t find the happy medium and made it tough.”

It only got tougher in the third, with Jose Altuve taking Blanton deep down the left-field line for a solo homer to lead off the frame. Another walk set up the back-to-back RBI singles that ultimately drove Blanton from the game, leaving a 5-0 deficit in his wake.

Manager Ned Yost at least took a few encouraging signs from Blanton’s outing, which stunted the veteran’s momentum and nearly doubled his season ERA to 3.14.

Yost said Blanton was close to the zone, but found trouble when he overcompensated.

“He wasn’t missing by much, but when he’d try to make an adjustment back from missing outside and he’d aim back to the corner, it was just catching too much of the plate,” Yost said.

“Stuff’s good enough, he just got in hitters counts and that left him vulnerable.”

It’s likely Blanton won’t be counted on as a starter for the duration of the season, so a start like this doesn’t exactly spell doom for a long reliever by trade.

Still, it’s the walks that ultimately bugged him, though Blanton is confident the four walks were more an aberration than a trend.

“I take pride in not walking guys,” he emphasized. “Can’t remember too many games where I’ve walked that many. You throw some borderline pitches that don’t go your way and some chase pitches they don’t swing at while fighting command issues -- again, it just makes it that kind of day.”