Oakland A's Notes: Blanton Solid In 2007

Blanton finished the season with a 3.95 ERA.

Joe Blanton may have finished the season with two fewer wins than he did in 2006, but the righty knows that his effort in 2007 was far better than in 2006.

Victories don't tell the full story, in Joe Blanton's mind.

The A's right-hander finished his 2007 season with a 14-10 record. That's two victories less than he had in 2006, but anyone who has watched him over the last two seasons would say that Blanton was better on the mound this season than last.

His ERA shrank by nearly a full run to 3.95, and he finished his last start Wednesday against Boston ranked second in the American League in innings pitched (230 innings).

"I definitely felt like a better pitcher this year than last year," said Blanton, 26.

"I was smarter. I felt like I learned a lot from last year and learned a lot as the season went on this season. I'm pretty happy."

Blanton's season ended on somewhat of a sour note, as he lasted just five innings Wednesday in an 11-6 loss to the Red Sox and gave up five runs on 11 hits.

Other Notes:
--DH Mike Piazza, playing in his first game at Fenway Park since spraining his right shoulder there May 2, homered in the fifth inning. The home run was Piazza's 427th career shot, moving him past Billy Williams for 39th on the all-time list.

--SS Donnie Murphy hit a three-run homer to give the A's a brief lead over Boston in a game the A's eventually lost. Murphy has shown occasional pop and is good with the glove. He could push for playing time at short next season, particularly if Bobby Crosby continues to struggle with health issues.

--LHP Jerry Blevins had his rockiest outing as a major-leaguer, getting tagged for four runs in the sixth inning, when Boston broke a 5-5 tie. Blevins didn't record an out against the five batters he faced. But the A's are high on the lefty, who was promoted through all three levels of the minor leagues this season.

--OF Jack Cust struck out three times, giving him 160 for the season. That set a major league record for most strikeouts in a season by a player with less than 125 games played. The previous record was 158. The maximum number of games Cust can play is 124.

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