Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Collision Leads to Phillies Win

What did Shane Victorino get Conor Jackson for his 26th birthday? How about a good ol' smack in the face.

In the top of the eighth inning, with the Phillies trailing 4-3, Victorino swung at strike three, the ball skipped away from catcher Chris Snyder, and Victorino sped down the first base line. He then ran right into Conor Jackson, Victorino's helmet hitting Jackson's face and Jackson's arm hitting Victorino. Both fell to the ground. Victorino was fine, but Jackson was down for a while. He eventually did get up and was fine, but came out of the game anyway. Eric Bruntlett then doubled, and Victorino scored to tie the game. Chase Utley then singled to score Bruntlett, giving the Phillies a 5-4 lead, and that would be all they'd need, as Tom Gordon and Brad Lidge pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings.

For most of the game, the Phillies were stymied by Arizona starter Micah Owings, who went seven innings and struck out seven. They only had four hits off of him, but managed to get three runs from them, two of which came from a two-run home run by Pedro Feliz. The other run came on an RBI single by Victorino to score Carlos Ruiz. Kyle Kendrick was decent enough for the Phillies, allowing three runs in six innings. Ryan Madson was brought in for the seventh, but could only get one out before allowing a run and being replaced by J.C. Romero, who got through the rest of the seventh without any further damage. Kendrick, however, allowed ten hits in those six innings. Chris Young got a home run, and Stephen Drew and birthday boy Conor Jackson got RBIs off him.

The truth is that Kendrick never looked particularly good out there. It seemed like any minute he would give up another run and it was a wonder that he only gave three. It looked like it would be a long night after he gave up the RBI hit to Drew in the first. Kendrick has never been known to dominate in the way a Cole Hamels or Brett Myers is supposed to, but he's known for giving solid outings and keeping batters off the bases, mostly by being a ground ball pitcher. Today he got very lucky. If Kris Benson does pitch for the Phillies at some point this season, Kendrick could well be the guy they remove from the rotation. That being said, Kendrick is still very young, and it's not surprising that he's having a bit of a sophomore slump. But the way he pitches shouldn't result in a sophomore slump as much as it might for a young flamethrower (Johnny Cueto after his first few starts). The back end of the rotation needs to pick it up if this team is going to be a major contender this year.

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