When you lose at home, with your ace on the mound in the opener of a five-game series, Game Two becomes a must win. The Phillies are in that spot and look to bounce back with a rookie on the mound.
If the Phillies are going to win Game 2 and even the NL Division Series, they'll need a quality start from rookie right-hander Kyle Kendrick
. But they'll also need an offensive revival.
In Game One, for a change, their bats went quiet.
The Phillies led the National League with 892 runs during the regular season. But in Wednesday's opener of the best-of-five series, they mustered only four hits. Their only offense came from back-to-back solo homers by Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell in the fifth inning.
Most shocking was the putrid performance of MVP candidate Jimmy Rollins, All-Star second baseman Chase Utley and slugging Ryan Howard. Among them, they went 0-for-11 with eight strikeouts.
Repeat: 0-for-11 with eight strikeouts.
"It's one game," Rollins insisted. "It's four at-bats. For me, it's three at-bats. We've all had those days."
But when Rollins, Utley and Howard have a day like that on the same day, the Phillies are dead.
Rockies ace lefty Jeff Francis, a 17-game winner, struggled in two prior starts against the Phillies, mainly because his steady stream of off-speed pitches were up in the strike zone and over the plate. This time, his curveball and changeup were down, and when the Phillies got fastballs, they couldn't adapt.
Utley struck out four times for the second time in his career (the first was June 8 in Kansas City). Howard, who fanned a major league record 199 times this season, whiffed three times. Rollins tapped into an inning-ending double play in the third and popped up a fastball to shortstop in the eighth inning with a runner on first base.
"That's the fourth time I've seen Francis pitch and the third time this year," manager Charlie Manuel said, "and he definitely was way better than the other two times we faced him. His control was very good. He was mixing his pitches good and his location was way better than before. And he was aggressive. That's the best I've seen him pitch."
ROCKIES 4, PHILLIES 2: Jeff Francis tossed six strong innings and the Rockies scored three second-inning runs against Phillies ace lefty Cole Hamels in a Game 1 win in the NL Division Series. With the Phillies trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning, Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell hit back-to-back homers to make it 3-2. But Matt Holliday homered off setup man Tom Gordon in the seventh inning to account for the final margin. The Phils, who led the NL with 892 runs, mustered only four hits, their lowest output since Sept. 12.
NOTES and QUOTES
RF Shane Victorino was in the lineup for Game 1 even though he didn't play much down the stretch against left-handed pitching. Manager Charlie Manuel said he hoped to utilize the switch-hitting Victorino's speed, particularly since Rockies C Yorvit Torrealba threw out only 19.7 percent of runners during the season, and Victorino swiped 37 bases in 41 attempts. But the decision wasn't easy for Manuel, who could've started RF Jayson Werth, a .375 hitter against lefties. "It was my toughest decision today," Manuel said. "I thought about it all night, and I liked Victorino because of the speed at the top of the order. I picked Victorino because of his speed."
C Carlos Ruiz underwent an MRI exam and had fluid drained from his bruised left elbow Tuesday and was resigned to the notion that he wouldn't be able to start Game 1 of the NL Division Series. But when he woke up Wednesday, Ruiz felt better and was in the Phillies' lineup. He wore a protective brace at the plate to shield his elbow, which was injured Sunday when he got hit by a pitch in the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals. "Yesterday, I was thinking I didn't have a chance," Ruiz said. "But this morning, I felt very good. I was surprised when I opened my eyes. I said, 'Oh my God.' I didn't want to miss this."
RHP Kyle Kendrick was never supposed to be in the majors this season. Turns out, he's a 10-game winner and the Phillies' starter for Game 2 of the NLDS. Kendrick, 23, was called up from Class AA Reading to make an emergency start June 13 after RHP Freddy Garcia suffered a shoulder injury that ultimately required season-ending surgery. Kendrick wound up going 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts and never returned to the minors even though GM Pat Gillick said Tuesday that the Phillies didn't plan on seeing Kendrick in the majors until at least the end of the 2008 season. "When he first came here, actually, it was kind of a look-see basis," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was coming to fill a stopgap for us, and we would evaluate where he's at and everything. He's the guy that jumped out, and he did his job early. And the better he pitched, of course, the more he got to pitch."
RHP Ryan Madson, who hasn't pitched since July 29 because of a strained muscle in his right shoulder, will report to Clearwater, Fla., on Friday to throw in the Phillies' instructional league. Madson said he has been throwing bullpen sessions without pain. If the Phillies reach the NL Championship Series, he could be added to the 25-man roster, assuming the club is confident that he will be effective. Madson was 2-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 38 appearances.
LHP Cole Hamels wore long sleeves under his uniform top Wednesday even though the game-time temperature was 81 degrees. After walking three batters and allowing three runs in the second inning, he switched to short sleeves, believing the sweat was affecting his control of his changeup. "It was definitely hot, and when I was throwing, the sweat was dripping down to my hands," Hamels said. "I wasn't able to get a good grip on it. I definitely realized it, so I changed them as fast as I could because I didn't want another inning like that."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's nothing new. We've been behind the 8-ball all year long, ever since we started 4-11. We're not going to change anything now. Look at where it's got us. It got us to the playoffs. Nobody's panicking. Nobody's sulking. We're not going to pack it in after one game." - Center fielder Aaron Rowand on the Phillies falling behind 1-0 in the NL Division Series.