Last night, it was Cliff Lee trying to pitch his way to a win. He couldn’t quite pick up a win of his own, but he helped the Phillies win another game.
Tonight, another winless starter was trying to get a victory of his own. He did that all on his own.
For Kyle Kendrick, facing adversity has been a regular thing. Truth is that in a starting role, Kendrick has been an excellent pitcher without the end result whether due to tough luck or just plain lack of offense.
Once again, not the case as Kendrick got some run support in the middle innings and cruised to a career-best start.
After three innings of scoreless baseball, it was the Phillies striking first once again in the series. Hunter Pence led off the fourth with a single and scored on an RBI double by Shane Victorino.
Kendrick continued to cruise through his innings, all while protecting a one-run lead. The Phillies offense gave him some insurance in the sixth. Placido Polanco led off the inning with a double. Pence and Victorino each worked walks to load the bases with one out. John Mayberry Jr. delivered the big hit driving a double down the line to score two. Freddy Galvis followed with a groundout that plated another run, capping a three-run inning.
That was plenty enough for Kendrick, who scattered seven hits on the night and needed just 94 pitches for the first complete-game shutout of his career, as he and the Phillies continued their winning ways, beating the Cardinals, 4-0.
More timely hits, excellent defense and superb pitching were the answer for the Phillies, who have suddenly won four straight games after losing four straight.
But the real story of the night was Kyle Kendrick. It’s fair to say that many people, including myself, don’t give Kendrick a fighting shot in some games, including this one. He was dominant from the start tonight. And after the bullpen was heavily used in the opener of this series, especially closer Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched in three straight games, a night off couldn’t have come at a better time.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing is that for all of the wins Cole Hamels has this season and the track record that Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay bring to any game, the Phillies’ two complete-game shutouts are by Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick. That certainly is something.
The Phillies have been playing their games recently with a little more fire and passion. And the results have been there. A real sign that things are going in the right direction would be a sweep of the Cardinals. They go for that tomorrow afternoon as Roy Halladay takes the mound against Adam Wainwright.
L: Jaime Garcia (3-3)