Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

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Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

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Kyle Kendrick didn’t get much sleep on Tuesday night and it showed with his performance on the mound on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Kendrick was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits, a walk and a hit batsman in just two innings during the Phillies’ 9-2 loss to the Giants (see Instant Replay). The right-hander didn’t strike out any hitters and left some pitches right there for the Giants to take some big healthy swings.

They didn’t miss.

Kendrick had just six two-strike counts on the 16 hitters he faced and four of those guys ended up getting on base.

“He was having a tough time. It just wasn’t his night,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He had one of those nights where everything they hit fell and went through. It’s just one of those things.”

Perhaps the cause for Kendrick’s sluggishness on the mound on Wednesday night was the fact that he and his wife Stephanie celebrated the birth of Kyle Kendrick Jr. on Tuesday at around 4:28 p.m. So after a whirlwind day, Kendrick didn’t take paternity leave. With Cliff Lee still day-to-day with a strained neck and the bullpen looking for help any way they can get it, Kendrick bit the bullet and took the mound.

Things went south in a hurry.

The Giants sent eight hitters to the plate in the first inning and had four runs on the board before the Phillies even came off the field for the first time. It could have been worse if recent call-up Cody Asche hadn’t made a Brooks Robinson-esque catch and throw to rob Hunter Pence of a hit and an RBI.

Kendrick’s reprieve was short-lived. Though he faced three batters in the second inning, he wasn’t able to get an out in the third inning when the Giants got three singles, an error and a fastball in the back to plate three more runs.

Just like that, Kendrick’s night was over.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Kendrick said. “I wouldn’t change that for the world. It was awesome. I just have to make better pitches. That’s what it comes down to.”

New addition or not, Kendrick didn’t look too sharp in his outings leading up to Wednesday’s debacle. He gave up 37 hits and 22 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings for a 7.71 ERA in July. Though he won twice in the month, Kendrick got one of those wins thanks to 13 runs of support.

Meanwhile, Kendrick’s month-by-month ledger has shown his performances get worse after each month. In April, the veteran righty went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA, followed by a 3-2 May in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and made it through six innings in five of six starts.

Kendrick opened June with a complete game, but took a no-decision in an 8-7 win in Washington where he allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Still, Kendrick was able to pitch at least six innings in five of his six starts in June for a 4.17 ERA.

After showing consistency at the end of the 2012 season as well as the start of this season, Kendrick is hoping to figure out the cause of this latest setback before he takes the mound again in five days.

“I think the last four or five starts I’ve been leaving things up,” Kendrick said. “I feel like I’m having one bad inning and I’m not minimizing the damage. I’ve been in tough ruts before, but I just have to keep making pitches. Today I had no command, the ball was up and when you’re like that, most pitchers end up getting hurt.”

Unlike the 13-8 win over the Mets, Kendrick didn’t get much help from his hitters. Chase Utley hit one just over the railing in right for a homer in the first inning, and picked up another RBI on a groundout in the eighth. Otherwise, that was about all the offense the Phillies could muster against Giants’ starter Chad Gaudin.

The Phillies had just five hits -- four off Gaudin in seven innings -- and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the loss was the Phillies’ ninth in the last 10 games. At 50-57, the Phillies are a healthy 12½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and just a game ahead of the Mets for third place.

Are the Phillies about to be passed in the standings by the Mets?

To avoid something like that from happening, the Phillies will send Cole Hamels (4-13, 4.09) to the mound in the series finale. Matt Cain (6-6, 4.79) will pitch for the Giants.

When the Giants leave town, the Braves arrive for a three-game series this weekend threatening to destroy the Phillies’ very slim hopes at making a run for a playoff spot.

Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford learning to fight through failure

Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford learning to fight through failure

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Plastered on a wall outside the press box in Coca-Cola Park is a sign — "Pigs to the Bigs" — surrounded by dozens of stars.

Each has upon it the name of a player who has made the leap from the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs to the parent Phillies since Lehigh Valley began operations in 2008 — everyone from outfielder Chris Snelling (April 30, 2008) to pitcher Nick Pivetta (April 29, 2017), the latter of whom has since returned to the IronPigs.

It is a study in the star-crossed, of guys who bounced up and down (Pete Orr, July 8, 2011), guys who flamed out (Domonic Brown, July 28, 2010), guys whose fate is yet to be determined (Maikel Franco, Sept. 3, 2014).

The point being that the path to major-league stardom seldom follows a straight line.

That has been demonstrated once again by the Phillies' top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, who spent weeks in bounce-back mode earlier this season.

And now finds himself there again.

His 0-for-4 night in Thursday's 8-4 loss to Indianapolis left him hitless in his last 16 at-bats, his slash line for the season at .175/.291/.221.

Recall that Crawford, the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft, had exactly four hits in 48 at-bats over his first 14 games of the season, an average of .083.

Never before had the 22-year-old experienced anything like it, and he took a methodical approach to remedying the problem. He did some video work. He tinkered with his stance. He consulted with hitting coach Sal Rende and roving minor-league hitting instructor Andy Tracy. And slowly but surely, he began coming around.

The thinking at that point was that his slump might serve as a valuable lesson, a blessing in disguise.

As Crawford put it hours before Thursday's first pitch, "I'd rather struggle here than if I ever make it to the big leagues, God willing. I'd much rather have it [happen] down here than up there."

Though it will happen there, too. Baseball, everyone always says, is a game of failure. It's just a matter of how each player deals with it, works through it, minimizes it.

Lehigh Valley manager Dusty Wathan has said repeatedly that he was impressed by Crawford's approach to his scuffling start, that he thought the youngster treated it as "a growing opportunity" that can only help him down the line.

It was all Wathan could have hoped for, for Crawford or anybody else.

"I think it's a good thing to be able to have some experience to look back on, later on," he said. "Now, when they're going through it they probably don't think of it that way, but those of us who have been around baseball and been in situations like that personally, too, know that it's going to get better."

Wathan, seated at his office desk in a T-shirt and shorts before Thursday's game, has been around the block. He previously managed Crawford at Double A Reading, and believes those 14 games in April represent a blip.

"We know that J.P.'s a great player," Wathan said. "I think [such struggles] can actually end up being a good thing for these guys."

If Crawford, a native Californian, had few previous failures to draw upon — "He hasn't really had any," Wathan said — he at least had a ready roster of big-time athletes in his family with whom he could commiserate. His dad, Larry, was a CFL defensive back from 1981-89. His cousin, Carl, was a major-league outfielder for 15 years, ending last season. His older sister, Eliza, played softball at Cal State-Fullerton.

Certainly it appears they have kept him grounded, because he is singularly unimpressed by his draft status or ranking with various scouting services.

"I [couldn't] care less about that," he said. "All that doesn't really matter. Once you get on the field, everyone's the same. Everyone's the same player."

Though he was somewhat less than that early on. He was admittedly frustrated, but far from defeated.

"You've got to stay on the positive [side] on everything," he said. "You can't get too down on yourself, or else you're just going to do worse."

Had it been a major-league situation instead of a player-development situation, it is entirely possible that Wathan would have held him out of the lineup a day or two, just to let him clear his head.

"Or maybe not, because he contributes every night, somehow," the manager said.

And as Crawford said, "You're not going to get better sitting. You've got to go out there and play."

He admitted earlier this month that while he had once been reluctant about video study, he found great benefit in it when he was looking for answers in late April.

He decided to raise his hands while at the plate, and the hits began to come. He batted at a .253 clip over 24 games, including a six-game hitting streak, bringing his average to a season-best .196 on May 20.

Now it's back to the drawing board. It is, after all, a game of failure. It's just a matter of dealing with it, working through it, minimizing it.

He has become well-acquainted with the concept.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).