The Phillies are the most unpredictable team game-to-game. Sometimes they come out and play well, like last night, and sometimes, well, they look like they don’t belong anywhere near a Major League baseball diamond.
Tonight’s game was an example of the latter. The Phillies combined a bad start with absolutely no offense, a bad effort from the bullpen, and a laughable performance in the field to put together a ghastly 13-4 defeat at the hands of the Braves.
LYLE KENDRICK REARS HIS AWKWARDISH HEAD
– During tonight’s broadcast, they showed a graphic indicating that the Braves are just 5-36 when they fail to homer in a game. I thought to myself, “Huh. If Kendrick can keep these guys from going deep, we have a pretty good shot here.” Easier said than done. Like clockwork, Chris Johnson, leading off the game, sent the next pitch into the left field seats to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. It was an early indication that it was the dreaded Lyle Kendrick–the ill-equipped doppelganger of Kyle Kendrick who throws a flat sinker and makes getting outs about as difficult as landing a human being on Mars–that was pitching for the Phils. The Braves would tack on two more with a two-run dinger in the second from (Guess who?!) Dan Uggla.
– Kendrick was being tagged early and often. Even the hits that weren’t home runs were well struck. As good as he’s been against Atlanta in his career, he just didn’t seem to have it tonight. Not only was the ball hit hard consistently off him, he struggled to get guys out quickly. Runners reached base in every inning. Through two innings, he had thrown 44 pitches. Through four, he’d thrown 81. By the time the end of the fifth came around, he had fired 100 pitches and allowed 6 runs, 11 hits and 2 walks. It was then that Charlie Manuel mercifully removed the ailing pitcher from the ballgame.
THE BULLPEN PILES ON
– As bad as Kendrick was tonight, the bullpen wasn’t exactly setting them down with relative ease. After pitching a scoreless sixth, Joe Savery allowed four runs in the seventh, including the Braves’ third home run of the game to Jason Heyward, a three-run shot to make it 10-1. That brought on Phillippe Aumont, who I guess felt 10-1 wasn’t embarrassing enough. The Braves would score another one off him. Jake Diekman, not wanting to be left out, also allowed a run in the ninth.
THE OFFENSE SPUTTERS
– After a quiet first and second, the Phils finally scraped out a run in third on a Jimmy Rollins single, set up by back-to-back seeing eye singles from Chase Utley and Ben Revere. Domonic Brown struck out with runners of the corners to end the threat. Those two sentences: those are the only things of note that happened with the offense tonight. That says how pathetic the Phillies offense was tonight better than I ever could.
– I take that back. One other cool thing did happen with the offense tonight. Darin Ruf made his 2013 debut, and singled in his first at bat. It was a grounder that just squirted through the right side, but it’s a hit all the same. He came around to score after a passed ball, a ground out and a fly out. Let Ruf mania begin!
– Michael Young homered in the ninth to make it 13-4. The Phils would still lose by two possessions.
– After Brian McCann lead off the fifth with a double, the Phillies ran a pick off play on himand caught him sleeping off of second base. On a timing play, Rollins sneaked behind McCann, Kendrick wheeled and fire, and if Rollins had caught the ball, they would have had the long-time Braves catcher by a mile. Unfortunately, Rollins couldn’t catch the ball and the play wasn’t executed. It was ruled an error and McCann came around to score an unearned run.
– The Braves scored their sixth run in the same inning after M. Young booted a ball hit to third to allow Justin Upton to reach. Upton, in the ultimate symbolism, ended up scoring on another ground ball that glanced off the glove of Young. Both plays were inexplicably ruled a hit, but both were clearly balls Young should have had. He also failed to get to a couple other balls that were within his range that were ruled hits earlier in the game. It was an all around bad night at the hot corner for Young, even if the score book won’t reflect it.
– Utley also had a groundball go through his legs in the seventh. That one was correctly ruled an error. Not a great showing by the Phillies defense tonight.
– The Braves had a season-high in hits (19) and season-low in strikeouts (4). Truly, a terrible effort from Phillies pitching.