Saturday, May 7, 2011
Posted: 9:50 p.m. Updated: 11:13 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
Theres a tendency to think of the Phillies as the Big 4 and a bunch of complementary players, and while the impact of the teams star-studded starting pitching rotation cant be disputed, there is more to this club than four guys named Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels.
It takes a full team to win a championship as everyone from the front office to the clubhouse has mentioned ever since this campaign began on Valentines Day in Clearwater, Fla.
This homestand has served as a good reminder of that. With two starting pitchers on the disabled list, the Phils have gotten three victorious starts from two fill-ins. Kyle Kendrick got the call in place of sore-backed Roy Oswalt on Saturday night and followed Vance Worleys lead two wins in place of injured Joe Blanton in pitching five shutout innings in the Phillies 3-0 win over Atlanta. It was the Phils sixth shutout of the season, tying them with Atlanta for the league lead. Worley and Kendrick have pitched 17 innings as starters on this homestand and allowed just one run combined.
Those guys are on a different level, said Kendrick, referring to the Big 4. But its just nice to help out.
Making his first start since October, Kendrick held the Braves to two hits. An economical pitch count of 69 helped him get the Phils far enough in the game where the bullpen could take over without being taxed. The righthander is 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in 10 career starts against the Braves.
He kept the ball down in good locations, manager Charlie Manuel said. Thats what its always about with Kyle location. He did a good job for us.
Kendrick emerged from the clubhouse for warmups about 30 minutes before the game. The wind was whipping straight in from centerfield and the pitcher couldnt help but notice it. In fact, he made eye contact with a groundskeeper, motioned toward the flag and flashed a quick thumbs-up. That wind may have helped on some hard-hit balls early in the game, but it had died down by the fourth inning when centerfielder Shane Victorino made a nice running catch near the wall on a shot by Dan Uggla to save extra bases.
That was the big play of the game for us on defense, Manuel said.
There was some pregame excitement in the air as the Braves called up highly touted righthander Julio Teheran to make the start. The 20-year-old from Colombia ranks first on just about everybodys list of top pitching prospects in the game. Even Manuel said he was excited about seeing Teheran pitch, though he added hed be more excited to see him knocked from the game early.
Teheran showed a mid-90s fastball and good off-speed stuff. But when he got behind in the count in the fourth and fifth innings, he went to his fastball against a couple a veteran fastball hitters and paid the price.
Ryan Howard crushed a 2-0 fastball over the centerfield wall to give the Phils a 2-0 lead in the fourth. An inning later, Victorino rifled a 3-1 fastball to right-center for an RBI triple.
Both players said they had fastball in mind.
I was looking for something straight and up, Howard said.
You have to be aggressive, but not too aggressive, Victorino said.
Howards homer was the 260th of his career, moving him past native Philadelphian Del Ennis (259) for second-place behind Mike Schmidt (548) on the franchises all-time home run list. Howard relieved a nice congratulatory note from Ennis widow, Liz, and broadcaster Gary Matthews read it to the slugger during a televised postgame interview on the field.
Its great that she took the time to do that, Howard said. It means a lot to me. Its a great accomplishment and Ive been blessed to do it.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com
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