The Phillies are playing terribly, but Kyle Kendrick either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care. Kendrick’s line from last night doesn’t look spectacular, but coming off eight shutout innings against the A’s Kendrick took a shutout and a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning last night. The last time the Phillies won a game that was started by someone other than Cole Hamels or Kyle Kendrick was June 12.
The struggling Phillies have won seven of the last eight games that Kendrick has started.
Apparently the Phils think Kendrick has been doing Brett Myers’ job so long they can do without Myers. Myers accepted a demotion to Triple-A and the Phillies have called up left-handed reliever RJ Swindle from Triple-A. Swindle will give the Phillies a much-needed second lefty in the bullpen and could potentially allow Romero to take on a bigger role in relief.
The Phillies’ season may hinge on Myers’ ability to turn his season around. The Phils can make the playoffs without a big second starter behind Cole Hamels. What I don’t think they can do without a big second starter behind Cole Hamels is be successful in the playoffs. That pretty much leaves two choices — Brett Myers can become the second starter they’re going to need or they can trade for one. I would be stunned if they trade for one, so I think we better be hoping that Triple-A is the cure for whatever is ailing Myers.
Myers deserves credit for accepting the assignment to Triple-A, much as he deserves credit for how little whining he’s done about being pinballed between the pen and the rotation. The Phillies deserve to have him get some people out.
The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 8-3 to improve to 45-39 on the year. In addition to the nice start by Kendrick, the game was highlighted by a nice inning by a struggling Tom Gordon and a mini-breakout by the scuffling Geoff Jenkins. The Phillies also managed to put together some nice at-bats and put the game out of reach with a big ninth inning after failing to execute offensively in both the seventh and the eighth.
Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out two.
Gregor Blanco led off the first with a walk and Kelly Johnson bunted him to second. Chipper Jones moved Blanco to third with a ground ball to Howard. Mark Teixeira was next and he went down on a ground ball that Utley fielded in shallow right field, almost behind first base.
Brian McCann led off the second with a double but was left stranded when Mark Kotsay flew to left, Jeff Francoeur grounded to second and Brent Lillibridge went down swinging.
Up 5-0 in the third, Kendrick set the Braves down 1-2-3.
Chipper walked to start the fourth. Teixeira flew to right for the first out before McCann moved Chipper to second with a single. Kendrick struck out Kotsay for the second out. Francoeur grounded to second for the third.
With two outs in the fifth, Blanco singled and stole second. Johnson grounded to second for the third out.
Chipper led off the sixth with a double. Teixeira flew to right before McCann moved Jones to third with a ground out to first. Kotsay popped to Feliz in front of the mound for the third out.
Francoeur and Lillibridge started the seventh with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and second for the pitcher’s spot and switch-hitter Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Manny Acosta. With the Phils up 5-0, Kendrick stayed in to pitch to Norton. Norton got up 2-0 before he ripped a double into right-center. Francoeur and Lillibridge both scored and the Phillies’ lead was cut to 5-2. Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Blanco and got him on a ground ball to first that moved Norton to third for the first out. He walked Johnson, which brought up Chipper with men on first and third. Chipper walked on five pitches to load the bases. Teixeira hit a double-play ball to Utley that Utley didn’t field cleanly. He recovered in time to get the out at first as everyone moved up a base and Norton scored to make it 5-3. McCann grounded to second to end the inning.
Utley should have started a double-play on Teixeira’s ball. His bobble cost the Phils a run.
Gordon threw a 1-2-3 eighth with a 5-3 lead. He got the first out with the help of a nice play by Rollins on a ground ball back up the middle by Kotsay.
Lidge pitched the ninth with an 8-3 lead. He allowed a one out single to Blanco, but struck Johnson and Jones out behind him to end the game. Lidge is really well-rested since the Phillies never win, so no objection from me about pitching with a five-run lead.
Three scoreless innings from the pen. The best news is the 1-2-3 frame from Gordon. In the three innings they allowed one hit and two walks, both issued by Romero. Lidge threw 17 pitches, Romero 15 and Gordon nine.
The Phillies’ lineup against righty Charlie Morton went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Howard returns to the fourth spot in the order with Burrell back at fifth. Jenkins plays right against the righty after Werth started back-to-back games against righties in Texas. Ruiz catches.
Rollins led off the first with a single but the Phils went in order behind him.
Burrell started the second and got behind 1-2 before he blasted a home run to left to put the Phils up 1-0. Ruiz drew a walk with two outs, but Kendrick popped to second to end the frame.
Rollins started the third with a single. Victorino was next and he lined a ball out to right for his third home run of the season. 3-0. Utley and Howard followed with back-to-back singles that put men on first and second with nobody out for Burrell. Burrell singled into left and Utley scored. 4-0. Howard went to third. Jenkins followed and he singled to left. Howard scored and it was 5-0 with men on first and second. Feliz struck out, Ruiz flew to right and Kendrick went down swinging.
Jenkins doubled with two outs in the fifth. Feliz struck out to leave him stranded.
1-2-3 in the sixth.
With one out in the seventh Utley and Howard singled back-to-back. Burrell drew a walk that loaded the bases and Werth ran for Burrell at first. Jenkins got ahead 3-0 but popped to Lillibridge in foul territory. Feliz grounded to second for the third out.
Don’t mind Jenkins swinging 3-0, but his popout looked huge at the time.
Ruiz walked to start the eighth. Taguchi hit for Romero with lefty Will Ohman on the mound. Taguchi bunted badly, too hard, back to the pitcher. Ohman threw to second, but his throw was in the dirt and not handled. Taguchi was safe at first and Ruiz safe at second. Rollins bunted the runners to second and third and the Braves walked Victorino, who came into the game hitting .224 against lefties, intentionally. Not a fan of that move, but it worked out great for Atlanta. Ohman struck out Utley and struck out Howard to end the inning.
Twice in two innings the Phillies were unable to score after loading the bases with one out.
They did finally blow it open in the ninth. Werth led off with a single and stole second as Jenkins struck out for the first out. McCann’s throw to second went into center field, allowing Werth to go to third. Feliz was next and he hit a fly ball into left deep enough to score Werth and put the Phils up 6-3. The Phils tacked on more with two outs afterwards, but that looked like a huge at-bat for Feliz at the time. Ruiz walked. Dobbs hit for Gordon and singled, moving Ruiz to second. Rollins walked to load the bases. Victorino singled into left and Ruiz and Dobbs both scored. 8-3. Utley flew to right to leave the runners stranded at first and second.
Rollins 2-for-4 with a walk.
Victorino 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI.
Utley 2-for-6 and left six men on base.
Howard 2-for-5 and left four men on base.
Burrell 2-for-3 with a walk and a home run, his 20th on the year.
Jenkins 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
Feliz 0-for-4 with a big sac fly and three strikeouts. He left six men on base.
Ruiz 0-for-2 with three walks.
Adam Eaton (2-6, 4.86) faces righty Jorge Campillo (3-2, 2.54) tonight. Campillo has made 22 appearances for the Braves this season, only eight of which have been starts. In his eight starts he’s 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.05 ratio. Lefties are hitting just .179 against him overall for the year and he’s give up just four home runs and 12 walks in 67 1/3 innings. The Phillies have lost seven of the last ten games that Eaton has started. Overall his walk rate and home rate are improved over 2007, but he has walked six in his last 12 innings and has allowed at least one home run in five straight starts.