By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Throughout his career as a Phillies pitcher, Kyle Kendrick has certainly had his ups and downs as a starting pitcher.
In 2007, he had an outstanding rookie season,but was sent back to the minors to work on his repetoire of pitches when teams around the National League figured him out. Between 2008 and 2011, Kendrick through his stints as a starter and a reliever has become a better pitcher.
Although his 2-4 record in 2012 doesn’t show it, Kendrick is pitching well for the Phillies. Since allowing seven runs in his first start of the season, he has 1.64 earned-run average over has last five starts prior to Friday’s game against the Miami Marlins. In his last start, Kendrick had a complete game shut-out against the St.Louis Cardinals.
While he wasn’t as overpowering as he was against St. Louis, Kendrick was tough enough to pitch his way out of a couple of bases-loaded jams in the Phillies 6-4 win over the Marlins in a game that took over three hours to play because of a rain delay.
Kendrick’s numbers against Miami were ordinary, but just good enough to keep his team on top. He allowed two earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and three walks in five and one-thirds innings. Not bad for a guy who experienced a 48-minute rain delay.
“He did a good job out there,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “They were hitting some balls hard off him. When they hit those balls hard off him, he settled in. When he got into a better rhythm, he got into a nice tempo, he started getting the ball and throwing it more instead of taking a lot of time. When he found his rhythm, he got in a groove and pitched pretty good.”
Things could have been much worse for Kendrick.
In the top of the third, the Marlins put Kendrick on the ropes by loading the bases with just one out. But the young Phillies right-hander got Logan Morrison into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play. In the fourth inning, Kendrick got into another bases-loaded jam with two out and managed to get the final out when a snagged a line drive off the bat of Marlins second basesman Omar Infante to end the threat.
“I’ve been into those situations where you get into jams, you just got to make your pitches, stay aggressive and try to get ahead and let them get themselves out,” Kendrick said. “The guys played some good defense. Ty (Wigginton on the double play) made a good play and it was an all-round good game for us.”
What also helped him tonight was the run support he got from the Phillies offense. After the Marlins jumped out to a 1-0 lead, the Phillies got a bases-loaded single from left-fielder Hector Luna that drove home a pair of runs to gave the Phils a 2-1 lead and never trailed after that.
Kendrick would get an even bigger cushion thanks to a two-run homer by Hunter Pence in the Phillies half of the fourth innning. Jimmy Rollins drove in another run on a safety squeeze play that scored Freddy Galvis. The Phillies got another run on an RBI-double in the seventh Luna, who finished the game with three RBI.
The Phillies bullpen didn’t necessarily makes things easy. After Jose Contreras left the game with soreness in his right elbow, Antonio Bastardo gave up back-to-back homeruns. Jake Diekman came on in relief of Bastardo, but gave up two singles that loaded the bases.
Luckily, closer Jonathan Papelbon to get the last two outs of the inning and finishing the game with a five-out save. While Manuel said it was the first time he had his closer on the mound for two innings, Papelpon said he had no problem going the extra frame to get the save.
“I look forward to every opportunity to get in the game and help the ball club win,” said Papelbon, who is 15-for-15 in save opportunities. “Anytime I can get in the ball game and we’re winning, it’s a good situation.”
Of course, Papelpon’s effort didn’t come without complication, a long flyball deep to the warning track was run down by John Mayberry, who caught the ball with his outstretched glove hand while falling to the ground.
“He made an easy catch look hard,” Papelbon said with a tongue and cheek.
Added Mayberry Jr.: “I tried to stay with it as best I could and do everything you can to make the play.”
Notes—Phillies general Ruben Amaro Jr. said Contreras, who left the game with a right elbow strain in eighth while facing his first batter, will have an MRI on either Saturday or Monday.
“We can’t speculate what is right now, but we’re likely to put him on the [disabled list] and hopefully he can be back as soon as possible,.” Amaro said. “(Contreras) said it wasn’t as bad as before. But we really know anything more until after the MRI.
Amaro said Contreras will also be seeing a team doctor on Saturday.