Ryan Howard put good wood on a baseball and sent it to the deepest angle of Great American ballpark. Off the bat, it looked long gone, but it ricocheted off the top of the center field wall. That summed up the day for the Phillies: nothing seemed to go their way.
Kyle Kendrick retired the first ten batters he faced, but fell apart quickly after. In the fourth inning, Scott Rolen smacked a two-run shot to left. Since leaving the Phillies, Rolen has given his former club all sorts of fits (.350 AVG career vs. Phillies) and troubles. But that is typical for most ex-Phillies; it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
The Reds kept chipping away and tacked Kendrick for six runs (five earned) in 6.1 innings.
Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto cruised along, surrendering just one run in eight innings of work. He got plenty of help from his defense, as the Reds backed him with numerous spectacular plays and web gems, showing why they lead the majors in fielding percentage.
The Phillies finally added a couple runs with two outs in the ninth inning. Raul Ibanez sent Bill Bray’s breaking ball into the right field bleachers for a meaningless home run. It can’t hurt his statistics.
There is a little concern regarding Chase Utley, who was mysteriously removed for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. It was later revealed that Utley had his thumb wrapped, and will have an MRI tomorrow. Utley, who made a fielding error, injured his thumb by sliding head first into second base.
“Hopefully [Utley] isn’t seriously-seriously hurt. But for him to leave the game, that in itself says something. That’s the last guy is going to take himself out of the game,” Shane Victorino said (via Ryan Lawrence).
There is no word on the severity of the injury, but if Utley were to miss time, that would be a huge blow for an already snake-bitten clubhouse. Placido Polanco would normally be the replacement, however he remains out of the lineup due to elbow problems. Losing any player of Utley’s caliber is tough, so hopefully he does not miss a significant amount of time.
The Phillies’ 7-3 loss showed that the Reds are legitimate contenders. They currently sit in first place in the National League Central, when in previous seasons they were towards the cellar. The Reds finally have a healthy mix of young, talented players and proven veterans. If the Phillies are going to contend, they have to beat teams like the Reds, who also have a chance to make the postseason.