The Phils were due for a stinker and thanks to old reliable Kyle Kendrick, they delivered, losing to Milwaukee 6-2 in a game in which the locals could be charitably described as lethargic.
In all fairness to Kendrick, his poor performance wasn't the only reason the Phils lost, but he did set the tone right out of the gate surrendering a first-pitch three run homer to Prince Fielder. Had I been Charlie Manuel I'd have gone out there and gotten Kendrick right away. Yeah, I know, can't go dipping into your bullpen that soon, but everyone in the park knew Kendrick's day would be a short one and the bullpen was going to get a work out sooner than later so why delay the inevitable? Right now I'd take my chances with one of the call-ups the next time Kendrick's turn comes around. After all, everyone knows a new guy on the block has a decent chance the first time out against a club which has never seen him. On the other hand, once you've seen Kendrick you can't wait to see him again...and again...and....
The other reason the Phils lost is that about half the team sleep-walked through the game, at bat and in the field, beginning with Jimmy Rollins and running through Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard. The Phils recent winning streak belies the old notion, advanced here and everywhere else ad nauseum, that as Jimmy goes so go the Phils. It just ain't so any more. Jimmy's average keeps plummeting as he pops up and flies out routinely, refusing to be selective about pitches.
This season marks the third straight year Rollins' average has dropped. Next year is the last on his contract and the unthinkable must be thought going forward, namely, that the Phils might not renew him.
As for Werth, he's definitely outta' here at the end of the year no matter what and despite his legions of fans he won't be missed by this one. His at bat in the eighth inning yesterday was a disgrace as he sat on and watched two consecutive fast balls whiz by and then struck out on what has become one of his patented off-balance, half-waves at the next pitch. In no uncertain terms Werth threw away the at bat. Given his attitude, one wonders why he didn't just go over to Charlie while still in the on-deck circle and say, "Skip, I know I'm taking this next AB off, so why not just send in someone else who wants to play?".
Howard also waved at a strike three during the game and just looked awful most of the time including his dropping a throw to allow the Brewers' last run of the day. Utley's mistake was to hit Howard right in the glove with that one! The scoops of the night before were therefore neutralized in one play the Big Piece TOOK OFF. (Speaking of Utley, his habit of tapping the ball in his glove before throwing is starting to make too many plays at first too close. He hasn't got a good enough arm for that tic.)
The Phils had plenty of other chances to score but never capitalized. Ben Francisco, an alleged fast ball hitter, watched a couple of good ones go by before flying out to end one threat.
What has become clear this season, more than ever, is how mentally challenged a lot of the Phillies are. Too many guys throw away at bats. Too many guys get picked off bases. Two many guys make poor defensive plays for lack of concentration. And far too many guys go up to the plate with no plan of attack.
Good pitching, which the Phillies have gotten nearly every time someone NOT named Blanton or Kendrick takes the mound, beats good hitting, but it cannot overcome stupidity!