Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kendrick and Co. Shut Out Marlins

One night after Jamie Moyer, the Phillies' resident "fisherman," sullied his perfect record against the Marlins, Kyle Kendrick shook off his past struggles against Florida and pitched six shutout innings. Coming into the game, Kendrick was 1-1 with a 5.40 in three starts versus the Marlins, including his July 19th outing in which he gave up seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. But Kendrick put all that aside and came up with a big win for the Phillies, as he and the bullpen combined for a 5-0 shutout.

In contrast to yesterday's game, the Phillies took an early lead and built on it. In the first inning, Chase Utley scorched a double to deep right center, scoring Shane Victorino and giving Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez (yes, the one who threw the no-hitter) a rude welcome in his second start since his right shoulder surgery. The Phillies left the first inning with 1-0 lead, but there was more to come.

Sanchez appeared to unravel a bit in the second inning. The first batter, Geoff Jenkins, reached on a Sanchez error and the next batter, Chris Coste, was hit by a pitch. In just a few pitches, Sanchez had gotten himself into a jam, with two on and none out. However, with Eric Bruntlett and Kendrick due up, things could have been worse. Bruntlett didn't see it that way, as he ripped a double down the third base line, scoring Jenkins and advancing Coste to third. Kendrick did his part as well, scoring Coste on a grounder to short. Ryan Howard tacked on another insurance run in the third inning with his 32nd home run of the season.

All the while, Kendrick kept the Marlins off the board. Unlike his last outing against Florida, in he pounded the strike zone and the Marlins pounded him, Kendrick pitched around Florida's hitters. Perhaps he pitched around them a bit too much, walking five batters (he only walked one on July 19th), but time and time again Kendrick worked himself out of trouble, as the Marlins struggled with situational hitting, going 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. When the Marlins did hit Kendrick, they didn't hit him hard. They had just one extra base hit against him, a John Baker double, and one of the four hits he allowed was an infield single.

Kendrick was pulled in the bottom of the sixth and 31 year-old rookie (the Phillies seem to love these guys) Mike Cervenak came in to pinch hit with Bruntlett on first and no outs. Bruntlett stole second on a 2-1 count and managed to take third as well thanks to a Dan Uggla error. (He's still got it!) Cervenak singled on the next pitch and Bruntlett scoring, giving Cervenak his first career hit and RBI. Jimmy Rollins doubled and Cervenak nearly scored his first run as well, as he advanced to third. However, it was not in the cards, as Sanchez was pulled for Doug Waechter, who struck out Victorino, and then Mark Hendrickson induced fly outs from Utley and Howard. Still, the Phillies held a 5-0 lead and the game was in the hands off the bullpen.

Once again, the bullpen performed admirably. Chad Durbin pitched the seventh and eighth (getting an at-bat in the process) and Ryan Madson pitched the ninth, maintaining the shutout and giving the Phillies a little breathing room in the NL East standings.

Kendrick became the second Phillies starter this season to reach ten wins (also matching his 2007 win total). Once again, he made hitters get themselves out and pitched himself out of jams, finding a way to win. Think of him as a young Jamie Moyer. Very young.

Tomorrow Cole Hamels can join Moyer and Kendrick on the ten-win plateau. He has yet to register a win against the Marlins this season, despite two very good starts (and one bad one). If Hamels wins, it will be his first since July 3rd, when he went 8 2/3 against Atlanta. Hamels hasn't pitched especially badly since then (though his last two starts were less than impressive). More often, he's fallen victim to a sputtering offense. Perhaps that will change tomorrow, as the Phillies face Marlins rookie Chris Volstad. That 3+ game cushion atop the division would sure look nice.

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