For the first, but certainly not last, time this season, the Philadelphia Phillies lost a series. And for about five innings on Wednesday, it looked like the Phillies were about to get swept by a very good Milwaukee Brewers team.
The Brewers had twice as many hits in this series as the Phillies did, thanks in part to a solid series by their No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Braun batted 6-for-12 against the Phillies with three RBI, one home run and five runs scored. Fielder also recorded three RBI and batted 7-for-12.
The Phillies won game three after finally getting some home runs and after some solid relief pitching.
Going into Wednesday afternoon’s game, the Phillies had only recorded 11 home runs all season. (The Yankees lead the league with 30.) Down 3-0, the Phillies gained the win thanks to Placido Polanco’s three-run homer and Shane Victorino’s solo shot that went deep into the Phillies’ bullpen.
But don’t count on the home runs by Polanco and Victorino sparking a torrid home run outburst just yet. The Phillies are heading out for four games to San Diego’s cavernous Petco Park where small ball will most likely be the winning formula.
Anyone Seen Jimmy Rollins?
Jimmy Rollins batted 1-for-12 against the Brewers and is batting 3-for-23 in the last seven days. I doubt he'll stay in the three-hole much longer if he stays in this funk. Maybe the trip back to his home state of California will get his bat going again.
The New and Improved Joe Blanton?
Joe Blanton, who lately had pitched as well as the Phillie Bot, pitched surprisingly well on Monday, getting through seven innings with only two earned runs and seven hits. After getting shellacked in Washington in his last start, Blanton watched his delivery on film and made an adjustment to his footing. Apparently it helped.
His other pitching counterparts did not fare as well. Roy Halladay gave up 10 hits and was charged with six runs while Cliff Lee gave up eight hits and three runs in six innings. Lee’s holding the Brewers to three runs was just enough for the Phillies’ offense to overcome Wednesday.
What Can We Expect from Kyle Kendrick and the Rest of the Bullpen?
RHP Kyle Kendrick pitched like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde against the Brewers. On Monday, he threw an oddity, allowing three runs on only one official at-bat. He walked the first batter he faced, made a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, gave up a run on a sac fly, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, intentionally walked the next batter, gave up another sac fly, intentionally walked another batter and gave up an RBI single.
Now compare that to Wednesday when he threw nine total pitches in the seventh and got the top three batters of Milwaukee’s lineup to fly out. With how inconsistent the other right-handed relievers (Danys Baez and David Herndon) are throwing, Kendrick will really need to establish himself as a strong relief pitcher.
With J.C. Romero on the 15-day DL, left-handed relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo will probably see a lot more work as well. Bastardo is still pitching lights out. He has yet to allow a run in 6.2 innings pitched this season and has only given up two hits and three walks.
The Phillies brought up another LHP, Mike Zagurski. Big Z gave up a hit and a walk while striking out a batter in 0.1 innings of work on Tuesday.
Mr. Consistent: Jose Contreras
When it comes to the eighth and ninth innings, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras are still a winning combination. On Wednesday, Contreras earned the save, thanks to some defensive help from Wilson Valdez and two strikeouts. The final strikeout came at Ryan Braun’s expense.
With Rickie Weeks on base, Braun at the plate (with a full count) and Fielder on deck, the game could have slipped away from the Phillies very quickly, but Contreras was confident in his 95-mph fastball and zipped it right past Braun.
Contreras earned his fourth save. Through seven games, he’s allowed three hits and three walks, but he’s struck out eight batters and hasn’t allowed a run.