the second time in 17 games, the Phillies are undoing the progress
they've made in the standings with a four-game losing streak. The good
guys once again find themselves five games back of the Nationals, one
game under .500.
Elsewhere, things are a bit better. Chase Utley
and Ryan Howard looked good at the plate in extended spring training,
and Roy Halladay held a press conference to announce he'll begin
throwing again after three weeks of rest. None of them are close to a
return, but return it seems they all will.
What condition their
Phillies teammates are in when that happens though hinges so much on
every last game, and tonight is another big one. Kyle Kendrick tries to
steer his mates away from a new low: their first five-game skid of the
Kendrick has been plodding along steadily since becoming
more of a fixture in the rotation. He's 2-4 with a 4.02 ERA, but as
usual, his numbers as a starter are even better, 2-3 and 3.27. KK has
won in consecutive outings, and hasn't allowed more than two runs in any
of his last four.
He could run into some trouble tonight though.
A couple of Los Angeles Dodgers have enjoyed tremendous success against
Kendrick. Naturally, Andre Ethier is one of them. The All-Star right
fielder is 5-for-13 with a pair of homers and 7 RBI off the righthander.
First baseman James Loney is the other, and while he's having something
of a down year so far, the lifetime .285 hitter is 8-for-14, also with
two diners and 7 RBI on Kendrick. Scary match-up there.
Phillies' struggling offense isn't catching any breaks with Chris
Capuano going for LA. he's having a career year, off to a 7-2 start with
a 2.50 ERA. Capuano had the dreaded Tommy John surgery and wound up
missing the '08 and '09 seasons for the Brewers, and after an
up-and-down year for the Mets in 2011, he joined the Dodgers and has
been a fantastic addition for them. He is currently fourth in the NL in
hits per nine.
Charlie Manuel doesn't have anybody in the lineup
who hits Capuano exceptionally well. Hector Luna is 5-for-15 all time
versus the lefty, but he is sitting this one out. Juan Pierre has seen
Cap the most, going 9-for-26, but those are presumably Juan Pierre-type
hits -- bunts, flares, infield singles, etc.
Something's got to
give here. The Fightins need a win bad tonight, but the numbers would
suggest their odds are not very good. We shall see.