By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
If the Phillies somehow get into the postseason and they make into the National League Division Series, the starting rotation will be tough to handle when you consider the Phils have Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.
And the way Kyle Kendrick has been pitching for the Phillies, there are not too many teams that want to face him either. Thanks to a career-high eight strikeouts for the 28-year-old righthander, the Phillies continued their late-season surge with a 3-1 victory over the last place Miami Marlins at Citizen’s Bank Park.
The Phillies are currently on a five-game winning streak including nine out of their last 11 games. With 21 games left, the Phillies are 5 ½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wildcard spot. The Phillies (70-71) are just one game below .500.
“I think somewhere along the line, you do play good baseball within a season and I think that if you stay with it, you’ll hit some streaks,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “I think baseball is streaks. If you got a streak coming and haven’t one during the season and you’ve got one coming I think sooner or later it can be good. If you hit one late in the season, it can be real rewarding.”
Manuel said the Phillies are starting to get some of the breaks that they weren’t getting earlier in the season to win those close games.
“We’ve definitely proved over the years that we can play in close games,” Manuel said. “If we play clean games, we usually keep our cool, especially our veteran players to put us in good position. That’s what I see happening.”
For the first five innings, Kendrick flirted with a no-hitter until Marlins catcher Rob Brantly singled to left center to open the sixth inning. When the count was 2-2, Kendrick appeared had to have the out, but it was called a ball.
Kendrick (9-10) would ultimately leave the game after seven innings and allowed just two hits, three walks and one run. He threw 95 pitches and was in command of his pitches throughout his time in the game. His improved changeupkept the Miami hitters
“Tonight (the changeup) was pretty good,” Kendrick said. “(catcher Erik) Kratz called a good game and was able to keep them off balance. I used (changeup) effectively as an out pitch. It was a good night for us. I was able to stay aggressive.”
After struggling during the first part of the season, Kendrick is now 7-2 since the All-Star and has won five out of his last six games for the Phillies. Since Aug. 8, Kendrick is 5-1 with a 1.49 earned average. He said getting the opportunity to be in the starting rotation since the trade of Joe Blanton has made him a better pitcher.
“It definitely helps that you get into a routine, you know what you’re doing every day that you come to the ballpark,” Kendrick said. “It was my spot to take control of it and go out there. Let them see that I’m strong there and let them make the decision.”
Meanwhile, Antonio Bastardo, who got the save, Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus allowed just two hits in the final two innings of the game.
The Phillies offense didn’t score runs in bunches, but it was just enough to back up Kendrick’s solid pitching performance. Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer to right the Phillies half of the fifth and Michael Martinez scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a double to center and going to third on a fielder’s choice
“I just got a pitch up to drive and that was it,” Brown said of his two-run homer. “I’m just learning how to hit a little bit, just getting more comfortable. The more comfortable I get, the more power numbers you guys will start seeing. Other than that, I’m just going out there and playing baseball and that’s it.”