Phils lose return home in Kendrick's spot start
Kyle Kendrick got the word that he was going to be the starting pitcher in Friday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks about two hours beforehand. Though he didn’t have as much time to prepare as he typically would in a starting assignment, Kendrick did have some time for reflection.
A quick look around the clubhouse from Kendrick’s vantage point showed a lot of new faces. Even players like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee haven’t been around Citizens Bank Park as long as Kendrick and when it comes to members of the 2008 World Series team still lacing them up for the Phillies, Kendrick is amongst a handful of hangers-on.
“I was thinking that today after [Joe Blanton was traded],” Kendrick said. “There’s only a handful of us left from back then. We’re obviously going in a different direction, trying to get younger. We’re playing with some new guys.”
So with just four members (Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard) from the championship team in the lineup for the 4-2 defeat to the D’backs, and only two watching from the dugout (Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels), the Phillies have officially moved on (see Instant Replay)
With Blanton being traded to the Dodgers a few hours before he was supposed to start on Friday, the Phillies are in the midst of moving on from the forgettable 2012 season, as well. If Friday’s performance was any indication it seems as if general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s next area of concern is to bolster the lineup. After all, Friday’s hitting performance left plenty of room for improvement.
“We had some chances to score, but, of course, we didn’t get the big hit,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We made some mistakes — some base-running mistakes — but outside of that we couldn’t get a big hit.”
Actually, the Phillies didn’t get too many hits at all. A solo home run in fourth inning from Utley and a sacrifice fly from new Phillie Nate Schierholtz accounted for all of the scoring. There was a chance to tie the game in the sixth inning when Kevin Frandsen’s two-out single to right appeared to score John Mayberry Jr. from second base, but home-plate ump Jim Wolf called the play at the plate out, though replays showed otherwise.
Manuel argued briefly, though gave up when it was clear it was a moot point.
“He was safe. I saw it really good,” Manuel said. “I think Wolfie knew he missed it so I didn’t argue with him a long time.”
Then again, the Phillies didn’t spend a long time out on the base paths, either. They had four runners make it past first base and went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position. Mayberry, Utley and Frandsen were the only players to reach base more than once, though it wasn’t like it kicked up much of a fuss. In the first inning Schierholtz singled with one out and was doubled off first base when Utley’s long drive was caught in the alley in deep center.
Kendrick was also doubled off first to end the third inning when he strayed too far off the bag on a dying quail of a pop up from Jimmy Rollins was caught. Yes, the Phillies made starting pitcher Ian Kennedy work over his six inning for his 10th win of the season. However, they did not get a hit against the D’backs' bullpen for the final three innings.
Afterwards, though, Manuel said the base-running blunders were costly, but the lack of hitting was costlier.
“We focus more on getting better from the offensive standpoint and scoring some runs and getting some hits,” the manager said.
Meanwhile, Kendrick appears to be once again moving from the bullpen into the starting rotation for the foreseeable future. Then again, that’s been the story of his career. Kendrick made his 14th start of the season on Friday night, though he also had been a stalwart in the bullpen by pitching 21 scoreless innings in relief. Over the past two seasons, Kendrick has made 29 starts and 31 appearances out of the bullpen.
Needless to say, Kendrick’s versatility has been a much-needed asset for Manuel and the Phillies. Perhaps it’s that versatility and consistency that has kept Kendrick with the Phillies for all of these years.
“I was in a little groove you could say, but I’m happy to be starting again,” said Kendrick after his four innings and 63 pitches of work. “Once I get my pitch-count back up I’ll get into another groove.”
Nevertheless, with another roster move and likely even more of them to come, the Phillies suffered a second straight loss on Friday. At 47-59, the Phillies are 16 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Washington Nationals and 13 1/2 games out in the wild-card race.
Indeed, the glory days seem to have ended all too quickly.