It all came together tonight. Pitching was sharp. Hitting was clutch in spots. The superstar came back to life. Managing was aggressive and never let up. It added up to a 4-0 win over the Athletics, the Phils’ first in more than a week. They extended their lead in the National League East to two games over the Marlins with the win.
While the offense finally did their job, the story was Kyle Kendrick, who provided the best start of his career. The line: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 1 BB. He had a no-hitter through four. He was mixing up pitches, throwing 71 strikes of a career-high 113 pitches (the ratio separated as the game wore on), keeping the A’s hitters baffled as to what was coming. Nothing dominating, but absolutely efficient against a bad no-homers offense.
And yeah, yeah, the offense finally came around a bit. Sure they left some runners on base (26 in fact), but they got on base, which is step one. Chase Utley looks like he’s back â€” he went 4-for-5 and missed a cycle by a home run (he would’ve had a natural cycle, too). He was hammering pitches with perfectly timed swings. Great to see. His average is back up to .297, a hit or so away from his regular domain.
Pedro Feliz and Chris Coste also had nice games with two hits each. Feliz knocked an RBI triple while Coste brought home two (Shane Victorino made a great baserunning play to score on one falling single). After Carlos Ruiz’s horrible double play Tuesday, Coste was a breath of fresh air.
Charlie Manuel and the coaching staff should be credited, as well, for the win. Manuel juggled the lineup completely, and while it didn’t work in some spots, the creativity should be applauded. You need to shake things up sometimes. Davy Lopes should get more recognition at the Nation. The Phils stole three bases, including a double steal that manufactured a run in the first inning. And while Steve Smith didn’t get it all right, he should be lauded for aggressively sending Chase Utley early in the game. The Phils had to be aggressive tonight â€” it helps get the fire out.
All is not cured, however. Jimmy Rollins left five on base in the three-hole, while Ryan Howard â€” batting fifth â€” went 0-for-5. But for tonight, put that aside, they got a win. Finally. Maybe the weight will be lifted a bit.
Associated Press photo