Tonight's ESPN-ized televised game between the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Philles featured Kyle Kendrick twirling his baseballing magicalness against Jake Westbrook of the Cardinals. I am doing this recap only because Trev223 promised to wear a Maggie Thatcher t-shirt if I wrote it.
The Cardinals started out in the top of the first by having Matt Carpenter launch a homer off Kendrick, causing Phillies fans to think of Prince Fielders Past. Game threadians were quick to start down the "Bad Kendrick" road, but he recovered to close out the inning with no further damage. Still, the Cardinals headed into the field behind Westbrook and armed with an insurmountable 1 - 0 lead over the Phillies.
Jimmy Rollins, feeding off of the negativity permeating the Delaware valley, laced a triple to lead things off. The grumbling, slumbering crowd in the ballpark raised a collective eyebrow wondering how the Phillies would strand a lead-off triple. John Mayberry, hitting second, walked, putting runners at the corners. Chase Utley, hitting third, singled to right, driving in Rollins while Mayberry hustled to third. A Ryan Howard sacrifice fly that was briefly more exciting than a sacrifice fly according to the Phillies' easily excited radio team, scored Mayberry and moved Utley to second. A Michael Young fly to left and a baserunning error by Chase Utley led to an inning-ending double play. Let me be the first to say that Chase Utley really needs to focus a little bit more. I don't think he's taking baseball nearly seriously enough.
Kyle Kendrick pitched into and out of a mess in the second. A walk and a single started off the inning. Pete Kozma hit a fly ball to Domonic Brown, and the runners held. A sacrifice by the pitcher Westbrook put runners on second and third, but caused the second out. Jon Jay grounded to Ryan Howard for the final out, and Kendrick escaped the frame unscathed.
The Phillies went into a fetal position in the shower in the bottom of the second, and wept. I cut and pasted the previous sentence so that I could reuse it for the rest of the game when describing the Phillies' offense.
During the bottom of the third, I tried unsuccessfully to think of a clever URL for this recap. Baseball was played, but I ignored it to play Word Feud with Phrozen and to eat rhubarb crisp with rhubarb that was living in my garden as recently as this morning. The box score suggested that nothing important happened, anyway.
In the fourth inning, Kendrick worked into some BABIP-related trouble, but escaped again. A grounder snuck up the middle for a single to the delightful Yadier Molina, hero of children and widows everywhere. Matt Adams dropped a soft single in no-man's land in front of Domonic Brown, who seemed to be unsure of whether to attack the ball or to take it on a hop. Fans grumbled a bit, but refrained from being unruly, evidently thinking Brown should cover at least as much ground in left as Raul Ibanez or Pat Burrell. Kendrick froze Freese on a called third strike after ran the count full. A fly ball by Kozma to Brown made it two outs, bringing up the pitcher, Westbrook who hit a comebacker to Kendrick, ending the inning. Kendrick's sort-of effectiveness and high pitchcount guaranteed that there would be middle relief before the game ended, though.
Howard, who has walked thrice and struck out 18 times this year, and who is likely to spend the next 629 regular season games under contract to the Phillies, singled and was erased on a Michael Young GIDP. A Domonic Brown walk was frittered away when Ben Revere grounded out harmlessly while the oufielders played bridge.
Kendrick pitched through the fifth inning, sending the Cardinals down in order while striking out his fifth batter of the game, but running his pitch count to 93. Durbin riseth, though Kendrick "hit" for himself in the bottom of the fifth, striking out on 3 straight pitches after Eric Kratz flied out. Jimmy Rollins was stranded after his single by John Mayberry, who struck out.
The sixth inning began poorly. An Allen Craig single followed by a Molina whiff started it off. Matt Adams blooped an inside-out double to left on a good pitch by Kendrick, putting runners at second and third with one out. A ground out to Michael Young scored the tying run, but made the second out. Young thought about going home with the ball, but discretion was evidently the better part of valor. Given Young's limitations as a fielder, it was probably wise to take the sure out as opposed to a close play at home. Pete Kozma singled to right and after some excitement, including a botched rundown, the dust settled with runners at second and third, but nobody scored. Westbrook came up, and bunted into the third out.
Kendrick was done after 113 pitches with a line of 6 innings pitched, 8 hits given up, 2 runs surrendered, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. His FIP was 3.69 and his xFIP was 3.16. His BABIP against was .368, which reflected the bloops that seemed to bleed him of a longer outing tonight. Bottom line? Not efficient, but certainly effective, especially for a fourth starter.
Chase Utley led off the bottom of the sixth with a ground rule double. Howard grounded out to second, moving Utley to 3rd. Michael Young worked a walk, bringing Brown to the plate. Brown walked for the second time on the evening, loading the bases for Revere who 2013'd into a double play, allowing Westbrook to escape the inning with the ballgame tied.
Antonio Bastardo started the seventh, inducing a ground ball to Utley who threw it past Ryan Howard, earning himself an error, though Howard did him no favors with his play on the ball. A sacrifice and a walk put runners at the corners and caused Charlie Manuel to introduce Chad Durbin into this flammable mix, which was, gosh darn it, just a bad idea. An Allen Craig single untied the game at 3 - 2. A walk to Molina loaded the bases for Matt Adams, who was hitting over .500. Durbin miraculously struck out Adams for the second out, and David Freese came to the plate. Freese lined out to Ryan Howard, ending the threat and allowing only the unearned run (on account of the Utley error), thus ending a Derpin outing roughly as successfully as one might hope it could end.
The Phillies at this stage found themselves down 3 - 2 with three turns to make up the deficit.
Erik Kratz led off with a single, bringing in Fernando Salas to end the evening of Westbrook. Pinch hitter Laynce Nix laced a double to the left-center gap, allowing Kratz to chug around from first to score. Rollins whiffed and Mayberry moved Nix to third with a "productive" out, and the Cardinals brought in Randy Choate to face the Phillies' lefties, and he escaped the inning with an Utley flyball. Of course.
The eighth was a welcome and much-needed 1-2-3 inning from Mike Adams, leaving the game tied with the Phillies having two at bats left compared to one for the Cardinals. Howard grounded out to short to start it off. Michael Young bounced a ball around the right side of the infield that neither pitcher Mitchell Boggs nor Matt Carpenter could handle at second, giving him an infield single to extend his hitting streak to twelve games. Dom Brown singled to center, putting runners at the corners. Revere came to the plate and hit a line drive single to center, scoring Young and moving Brown to second, redeeming himself for hitting into the double play with the bases loaded in the sixth. The Phillies took the lead, 4 - 3.
The scene set thusly, Erik Kratz smashed a homer deep, deep, deep to left, putting a three spot on the board and the game out of reach at 7 - 3. No further fireworks occurred, but the Phillies did ultimately send 9 batters to the plate in the inning. The game was delivered into the hands of an already-warm Jonathan Papelbon, who dispatched the Cardinals uneventfully.
Fangraph of mediocrity, poor defense, and the bottom half of an order that just can't hit*:
*Except for Kratz, tonight.