Implosion is the only word to describe Jonathan Papelbon‘s outing tonight. With the Phillies up 3-1 in the ninth inning, Papelbon surrendered three earned on four hits and two walks, including a walk-off walk issued to Shin-Soo Choo as he blew the lead, and the game, for the Phillies.
The man affected most? Kyle Kendrick.
Kendrick stared down the barrel of the loaded gun that is the heart of the Texas Rangers line-up with runners on second and third with no outs in the first inning.
And he lived to tell about it. It was Papelbon’s gun, or lack of ammo, that would end the delight of Kendrick’s night.
Kendrick struck out Prince Fielder, got Adrian Beltre to ground back to the pitcher and was able to clumsily get Choo out in a pickle, and then got a long fly ball from Alex Rios to center field to end the threat. Kendrick would keep the Rangers within arms length, allowing just one earned run in seven innings on four hits and one walk.
Make no mistake about it – this should have been the game’s most pivotal moment and Kendrick kept his cool, allowing the Phillies to keep a 3-1 lead for much of the game on the back of his very good outing.
Patients At-Bats Lead to Success
The Phillies, facing first-time starter Robbie Ross, forced Ross to throw 96 pitches in just five innings, drawing just two walks but smashing seven hits. The Phils got to Ross early, as a Carlos Ruiz double and the Chase Utley single that followed led to an early 1-0 lead.
After a Chooch walk, Ryan Howard, from the DH slot, took Ross deep on a deep two-run shot to the deepest part of right center in the third inning. The Phillies were consistently on base this evening: every Phillies starter but Ben Revere had a base hit.
Kendrick Kept Hitters Off Balance, Hollands Fires Back
With strong command of his change-up and sinker all night, Kendrick rarely found himself in jams. Three out of seven of Kendrick’s innings were of the 1-2-3 variety. Mario Hollands, after being thrown to the fire in his Major League debut the night before, pitched a 1-2-3 8th. All was well until Papelbon let the flood gates open. Former Phillies’ farmhand Seth Rosin, acquired in the Hunter Pence trade, made his second Major League appearance and earned the win pitching two innings and striking out one. A little punch in the gut, there, when the throw-in guy in a major trade goes elsewhere and has early success against the team that didn’t protect him in the Rule V draft.
With the loss, the Phillies lose the opening series of the season, moving to 1-2. The Phillies sit a one and a half games behind the Washington Nationals for the NL East. Hey, it’s never too early to scoreboard watch.