On Sunday the Philadelphia Phillies' starting pitchers were the reason that the Phils took a doubleheader from the New York Mets. Young Kyle Kendrick was finally given his first starting opportunity in 2009 after spending most of the year in the minors, where he added some new pitches to his repertoire. You may recall that Kendrick was the surprise success story of the 2007 season, winning ten games after being called up from the minors. But in 2008 it became apparent that NL hitters were learning to "sit on" his bread- and-butter pitch, the sinker. Even though he won eleven games last year, he was put in Charley Manual's doghouse and deleted from the playoff roster. While his teammates were defeating the Brewers, the Dodgers, and then the AL Champion Rays, Kendrick was demoted down to the fall instructional league. He spent nearly all of this season at the Phillies' Lehigh Valley farm team. But it looks like all the hard work has paid off. Kendrick was brilliant at mixing his pitches and keeping the Mets off balance. His victory was nearly lost though as manager Charley Manual foolishly inserted Brad Lidge in the ninth inning. Lidge continued to struggle mightily against the Mets, just as he has struggled against just about every team this year. Luckily for Kendrick and the Phillies, the Mets only scored two runs against Lidge instead of three or more. Once again, Lidge is NOT a reliable "Closer". Yes, I think Brad Lidge should be given some more chances to pitch and get himself straightened out; but, NO I don't think he should be used in the "Closer" role until and unless he demonstrates success in at least three or four consecutive outings. I have strongly disagreed with Manager Charley Manual all year on his pitching selections and, unless Charley is willing to try some new strategies, I predict his mismanagement of the pitching staff will doom the Phillies' post-season chances. As for Kyle Kendrick, I say "Bravo!" for a well-pitched game and I hope there will be more opportunities for this young man to pitch for the Phils.
The second game was a classic pitching duel. Tim Redding has pitched some pretty good games against the Phillies in his career, but this was one of his very best. It took shut out pitching by Pedro Martinez to beat the Mets. When the Mets had base runners against Pedro, he seemed to reach back for something extra to retire the side. Several times Charley Manual wanted to take Pedro out of the game, but he kept persuading Charley to let him go a little longer. He was pitching with his head and his heart for the magnificent total of 130 pitches, an outstanding courageous performance. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Charley put a pinch hitter in for Pedro. By this time, I'm sure he was weary. In the ninth inning, thank goodness, Charley DIDN'T bring in Brad Lidge, but brought in Ryan Madson instead. Madson retired the Mets and preserved Pedro's shut out victory.