Tonight’s outing was a do or die situation for Kyle Kendrick. His first two starts of the year were disasters and rumors began to circle about sending him back to the minors. Lucky for Kendrick, he put together a great start against the division rival Braves; not so lucky is that the bullpen had to get involved and blow the game.
Kendrick’s outing is the only good news from the evening. With JA Happ suffering from a flexor pronator muscle strain and missing his next start, the rotation has a few big question marks looming. Joe Blanton is rehabbing and should be back soon, but if Happ goes on the DL, this team will need Kendrick to pitch up to his potential.
He did just that tonight; Kendrick cruised through 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits and escaping a bases loaded jam in the 4th by inducing a ground ball double play. Those 8 innings matched his career high. Kendrick looks more confident and comfortable on the mound; this gives everyone reason to hope that the struggles are behind him.
And while the Phillies offense took the weekend off, scoring only 1 run in two games, they began to creep back to life tonight. The Braves ace, Tommy Hanson, lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs. Chase Utley led the offense with 2 hits and 2 RBI and every starting position player had at least one hit except for Carlos Ruiz.
Most encouraging was watching the Phils hitters be patient at the plate, which allowed them to work Hanson and get him out of the game early. The 3 runs they scored through 7 innings were all pieced together with base hits and a few doubles, which is another sign that this normally power-hitting offense is really gelling together. But sadly, this is the end of the good news…
So while Kendrick should have had his first win of the year, leave it Ryan Madson to ruin his night. Madson came in for the 9th to save the game and blew it instead. With 2 outs, Madson walked a batter and then gave up a home run to make the score 3-2. The Braves rookie sensation, Jason Heyward, stepped to the plate and Madson tossed him a cookie, which he sent flying over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Start praying that Brad Lidge comes back soon and is in good shape….ugh.
Jose Contreras was sent in for the 10th and proceeded to give up a walk-off home run to the first batter, handing the game over to the Braves. This was a disgusting loss for the Phillies. It gives credence to all the worries about the weak Phillies bullpen. There is no longer a question about whether we should be concerned about the bullpen. The only question left is what are the Phillies going to do about it?
The Phillies have 2 more games in Atlanta as part of this 9-game road trip. Roy Halladay will start tomorrow night and try to go 4-0 in April. Game time is 7:10pm. Let’s pray no bullpen is needed.
Photo by Jenn