Unable to secure 3-0 and 6-5 leads, the Phillies finally gave way to the hard-hitting Diamondbacks, who took the game, and the series, in an 8-6 struggle. The Phils, who fell to 3-3 on the roadtrip, move on to San Francisco.
Call it a case where the league’s home run (26) and slugging (.470) leaders outmuscled the opposition in a game where the opposition rested several regulars and weren’t set up to use their best arms. Following a season-long trend by every starter other than Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick fell victim to the proverbial “one bad inning,” only this time he had it coming. Kendrick, who was living dangerously out over the plate most of the game, wriggled away from big innings in the second and fourth as the D-Backs and Phils took turns squandering scoring opportunities. Arizona would eventually break through.
Nevertheless, this was another loss attributable to the bullpen, a tally that’s beginning to climb. Danys Baez, who has not impressed and already appears to have pitched himself out of the set-up role, allowed the Diamondbacks to tie it with double-single-double to open the seventh. The last time Baez has not allowed a run in an appearance longer than an inning was June 18 of last season, something Manuel may want to consider. The Diamondbacks took the lead for good in the eighth against David Herndon. Tasked with holding it at 6-6, and with a strikezone that appeared to be working against him, Herndon got ahead, but couldn’t put the slugging D-backs away. With Joe Blanton and Brad Lidge knocking on the door, the Phillies will be forced to make a hard decision on their Rule 5 pick, who at this point may be in over his head.
There’s no reason to get bent out of shape about a back-and-forth loss and a 3-3 start to the road trip, although 4-2 would feel a lot more comfortable heading into the final leg of the West Coast swing. The issue now is whether the Phillies can resuscitate the offense in time for a series that will be bookended by Jonathan Sanchez (vs. Roy Halladay) and Tim Lincecum (vs. Cole Hamels). Get the coffee ready; this is a playoff preview.