Phillies Bullpen Falters

Kyle Kendrick held a dangerous Atlanta Braves lineup in check through eight innings, but the Phillies’ bullpen could not successfully hold the Braves to two or fewer runs with three outs to go. Ryan Madson forked over three runs on a two-out, two-run home run by the seemingly-impotent Troy Glaus and a game-tying bomb to center field by Jason Heyward. Jose Contreras would make it a quick extra-innings affair by serving a game-winning home run to the also seemingly-impotent Nate McLouth.

The graph to your right says it all. Kendrick gave the Phillies a death grip on the game after eight innings. His sinker was effective all night, helping him escape the rare jam and otherwise ending innings very quickly compared to Braves’ starter Tommy Hanson.

Hanson left after four and two-thirds innings having thrown 102 pitches. Kendrick, meanwhile, threw 109 in eight innings of work. Of the 24 outs, 16 of them came via ground ball. He allowed only four hits and just one extra-base hit. Like Hamels on Sunday against the Florida Marlins, Kendrick certainly pitched well enough for a win but the bullpen did him no favors.

Ryan Madson started off the ninth inning in fine fashion, inducing a ground ball out from Martin Prado. However, he could not find the strike zone against Chipper Jones, who walked. Brian McCann flied out and it appeared to be a relatively easy inning. But Madson left a fastball over the plate to Troy Glaus, who entered the game with an AVG/OBP/SLG line of .195/.283/.268 and was 0-for-3 with a GIDP and 4 LOB. Glaus got a hold of it for his second home run of the season.

Phenom Jason Heyward tied the game with a well-hit home run to center field on a decent pitch from Madson — a sinker away.

Nate McLouth ended the game in the bottom of the tenth when he pulled a Jose Contreras curve over the right field fence. Contreras had worked him away the entire at-bat, going slider-curve for two quick strikes. McLouth refused to bite on two fastballs outside of the strike zone.

Both Heyward and McLouth are to be credited for their approaches at the plate as neither hit junk pitches.

In the aftermath of another shaky outing by the Phillies’ bullpen, the performance of Kyle Kendrick will be lost. His performance tonight likely earned him at least two more starts given that the status of J.A. Happ is unknown aside from his missing his next start, which was scheduled for tomorrow. Joe Blanton made a rehab start in Lakewood today — he pitched well — but isn’t expected back for another one to two weeks.

Roy Halladay will oppose Tim Hudson tomorrow as the Phillies look to get back on a winning path. They have lost four out of their last five games since rattling off five wins in a row against the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. Three of the team’s eight wins have come on days Halladay has started.

Injury Updates

  • As mentioned above, J.A. Happ will miss his next start which was scheduled for tomorrow. He is dealing with a mild flexor pronator muscle strain in his left forearm. Todd Zolecki reports that both Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero had to have off-season surgery to deal with similar injuries. The Phillies tend to be conservative so it is very possible that Happ will miss more than one start. He will throw a bullpen session on Thursday to see where he stands.
  • Joe Blanton had an uplifting rehab start today in Lakewood. In two innings, Blanton threw 13 pitches (all fastballs), 11 for strikes, striking out two batters. He is dealing with a left oblique strain but has come along fine and should be activated either for the series in San Francisco against the Giants April 26-28 or at home against the Mets starting April 30.
  • Brad Lidge will make a rehab start in AAA Lehigh Valley tomorrow night. If all goes well, he could be activated to join the Phillies some time during the last half of the road trip, but it is more likely that he will join the Phillies at home against the Mets.
  • J.C. Romero struggled in his recent rehab outing with Lehigh Valley. In one inning, he threw 19 pitches, walked three batters, and uncorked a wild pitch. Still, it was reported that he had good movement on his pitches and did not experience any health set-backs despite rolling his ankle landing after throwing his first pitch. Romero is ahead of Lidge and Blanton and could join the Phillies during the last half of their road trip.

Game graph via FanGraphs.