Well, that certainly wasn’t what Kyle Kendrick was hoping for. After a strong spring training and substantial talk about how he has developed several other pitches to complement his sinkerball and has been learning from Roy Halladay, Kendrick came out and promptly allowed three first-inning runs in a 6-5 loss to the Nationals before a meager crowd of 20,217 at Nationals Park. To make matters worse, after the Phillies had scratched back to tie the game, Nelson Figueroa – previously a Phillie, yes, but also a castaway of the Mets’ bullpen – allowed the eventual winning run on a looping double by Ryan Zimmerman in the seventh inning.
The Nationals jumped all over Kendrick as if they knew what was coming. On the second pitch of the game, Nyjer Morgan smacked a fastball to right field for a triple. Cristian Guzman followed with a single on the second pitch, and Ryan Zimmerman pounded a first-ball fastball for a double to left; he later scored on a sacrifice fly.
After the Phillies pulled to within 3-2, Willie Harris drove a Kendrick change-up over the fence in right-center in the fourth. Kendrick was yanked after the inning, having allowed five earned runs and six hits while throwing only 55 pitches.
In the fifth, Nyjer Morgan misplayed a sharp liner hit by Placido Polanco into a two-base error, scoring Ross Gload, and Ryan Howard lined a single to center with two outs to cut the score to 5-4. But Howard isn’t exactly known for his baseruning, and moments later he made a grievous error on a double by Jayson Werth, rounding third base too far and getting caught in a rundown before being thrown out at home by 20 feet.
In the sixth, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out, and Jimmy Rollins tied the score with a sacrifice fly to right field. But Placido Polanco grounded out to end the threat.
The Phils were poised to at least tie the score in the ninth after Chase Utley led off with a double off Nationals closer Matt Capps. But with Utley on third and Howard on second with one out, Raul Ibanez – looking a lot like the Ibanez from spring training – flied out weakly to left. Victorino followed with a popup to shortstop, and the Phillies failed in their bid to open the season with a series sweep for the first time in nine years.