If there is one team out there that pitcher Kyle Kendrick should be able to handle, you would probably pick the Nationals. However, in the first inning tonight it did not look good. Kendrick gave up a run and loaded the bases. But after chatting with pitching coach, Rich Dubee, Kendrick calmed down and got out of the jam.
Kendrick has been the big unknown all year long; as in, no one knows what he might do in any given start. He has given up no less than 4 runs in each of his last 4 starts while pitching no more than 6 innings in any of those game. But tonight, he handled the Nats and allowed only 2 runs over 6 inning.
The offense got Kendrick a descent lead with some homers and a few other timely hits. Both Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez had 3-hit nights and they each collected an RBI. Shane Victorino had 2 hits and a walk in the leadoff spot. Valdez, filling in for the still lame Jimmy Rollins, tripped going around the bases in the 3rd inning and looked like he was hurt. Luckily, he shook it off and kept playing. But with all the injuries this year, that was a scary moment.
Also in the 3rd, Ryan Howard broke some more Phillies records. With a 2-run homer, Howard became the first Phillie ever to record 5 straight 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons. Chuck Klein had done it 4 straight seasons. Howard’s 252nd career homer also put him into third place all-time for home runs by a Phillie. He passed Pat Burrell who had 251 homers.
In the 7th, there was a bit of a counting mix-up involving the Nats lead-off hitter, Danny Espinosa. After he watched 2 strikes go by and swung and missed at the 3rd pitch, Espinosa hung around, waiting for another pitch. From the Phillies dugout, Roy Oswalt held up 3 fingers for him, hoping he would get a clue. Instead, Espinosa stood there and proceeded to argue the strike count with the umpire. Poor kid; maybe he took counting lessons on Sesame Street with the Mets alumni? :
Later in the 8th, Ryan Madson came in to pitch with a 5-2 lead and got himself into big trouble. After a fly ball out, he walked the next 2 batters and gave up a single to load the bases with one out. A 3-run lead for the Phillies these days is not a sure thing by any means. But Madson found where he had hidden his fastball location and got the next two outs.
Brad Lidge came in for the 9th and recorded his 23rd save of the year and did so with only 8 pitches. Not to be outdone by Howard’s accomplishments, Lidge moved past Tug McGraw on the Phillies all-time saves list with 95.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm, the Phillies will try to sweep the Nats with Joe Blanton on the mound. I shall return with photos and hopefully, a win :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography