Kendrick knocked around as Braves pelt Phillies

Posted: August 09, 2012

David Ross, Atlanta's 35-year-old stocky backup catcher, stole second base standing up in the seventh inning Wednesday night for his first career steal, and another mutiny started in the stands at Citizens Bank Park.

"We want our money back!" one fan yelled.

"Yeah!" said another.

The ballpark emptied, a 12-6 Phillies loss to the Braves the latest cause for consternation. It was a night when pitching systematically failed the Phillies, beginning with Kyle Kendrick's clunker of a start. His teammates staged an admirable five-run comeback only for the bullpen to blow it.

The loss robbed the Phillies of a chance to win three straight three-game series. They have yet to do that in 2012.

Manager Charlie Manuel was resigned to reality afterward. He faulted Kendrick, thrust into the rotation with Joe Blanton traded to Los Angeles, for altering the game's pace. Jimmy Rollins led off with a home run. Kendrick promptly allowed four runs and threw 50 pitches in a 23-minute marathon of a second inning.

"He slowed the game," Manuel said. "At times, it takes the starch out of your team. Jimmy starts the game off, hits a home run, and we were definitely up and ready to go. When you slow the game down like that, it kills the momentum of the game."

The damage was totally avoidable. Two runs scored on a double by the opposing pitcher, Tim Hudson. Kendrick walked three batters in that inning and two of them scored.

Once he surrendered a two-run blast to Michael Bourn in the fourth inning, the boos were louder. Then cheers went up when Manuel emerged from the dugout. And as Kendrick sauntered to the dugout, it was boos again, with an "E-A-G-L-E-S" chant shouted from one row.

"I guess that's how it is with me," Kendrick said. "It's, 'What have you done for me lately?' You always want to pitch well. Yeah, it was a bad outing. I have to move forward."

Ryan Howard's three-run bomb to tie it in the fifth inning temporarily erased any ill will toward Kendrick. It remained tied until the seventh after the furious comeback. Then Antonio Bastardo and Josh Lindblom allowed six runs and recorded a grand total of three outs.

Manuel did not guarantee another start for Kendrick. He has made two starts since Blanton's trade and has permitted eight earned runs in 71/3 innings. His ERA this season is 4.86.

"I don't know," the manager said. "We'll talk about that. We don't have too many options."

Fans have clamored for triple-A righty Tyler Cloyd, who has a 2.12 ERA for Lehigh Valley. Cloyd, coincidentally starting the same day as Kendrick, allowed four runs in 62/3 innings Wednesday. He tied season highs with four walks and eight strikeouts.

Cloyd does not throw hard, rarely hitting 90 m.p.h., and relies heavily on command. Two scouts who have watched him pitch multiple times in 2012 cast doubts about his ability. The Phillies did not bring him up in June when they needed a spot starter and instead used the bullpen for nine innings.

Whether it's Kendrick or Cloyd, it's important to remember what the Phillies must replace.

Blanton made exactly 100 starts for the Phillies with a 4.47 ERA in five seasons. The Phillies were 58-42 in those games. He averaged slightly more than six innings per start. When he was traded, he led the National League in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Phillies had paid Blanton $24 million since 2010, which is hardly fifth-starter money. They owe Kendrick $4.5 million in 2013, part of a two-year, $7.5 million deal he signed in spring training.

With an ever-expanding payroll and holes to fill, it will be tougher for the Phillies to devote that kind of money to a sixth starter. It increasingly appears they must make a decision on Kendrick's future. Wednesday was a decided step backward.

Said Manuel, "He's had that kind of game before."


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @magelb.

 

|
|
|
|
|