CINCINNATI -- Joe Blanton gave up three home runs in his Angels debut, one on his first pitch with his new team, in a 5-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Thursday, the ninth time in his career Blanton has given up three or more homers in a game.
The Angels banged out 11 hits, including three by Erick Aybar, but they also struck out nine times, bringing to 36 their number of strikeouts in the three-game series, a club record.
The last came on a 98-mph fastball from Reds closer Aroldis Chapman to Josh Hamilton, who swung through it for strike three with Mike Trout on second base to end the game.
Blanton is a strike-thrower with such good command he didn’t issue a walk in 19 spring innings, but the combination of his aggressive approach and underwhelming stuff has led to an average of 28 homers allowed in Blanton’s last three full seasons.
When Shin-Soo Choo smacked his first pitch for an opposite-field shot to left field to start the bottom of the first inning, Blanton became the first Angels pitcher in 17 years to have his first pitch with the club hit for a homer.
The last player to suffer that indignity? Jason Dickson, whose first career big-league pitch was hit by Derek Jeter for a homer on Aug. 21, 1996.
Dickson recovered to throw 6¿ scoreless innings for a 7-1 victory that day. Blanton did not rebound that effectively Thursday, giving up a solo shot to Todd Frazier to open the second inning and a two-run shot to Chris Heisey that snapped a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning.