Phillies end first half on a sour note

Kyle Kendrick has allowed 24 runs in the first inning this season during his 19 starts. Credit: Getty Images Kyle Kendrick has allowed 24 runs in the first inning this season during his 19 starts. Credit: Getty Images

Kyle Kendrick is the Phillies biggest enigma and that’s saying something, considering Domonic Brown is on the roster.

The Phillies longest tenured righthanded pitcher appears to need a pitcher whisperer. Kendrick normally throws well, save the first inning.

Kendrick was rocked again during the initial frame. The Nationals scored three first inning runs courtesy of a Jayson Werth three-run homer.

“He gets away from his fastball and gets into his secondary pitches,” Ryne Sandberg said. “Those pitches hit (in the first inning) were 0-2 changeups and a breaking ball. He didn’t establish his fastball.”

Kendrick, who took the loss since the Nationals drubbed the Phillies 10-3, can’t explain his malady.

“I don’t know what to say,” Kendrick said. “I didn’t make quality pitches (in the first) I guess. I’ll keep working at it and I’ll fix it.”

Kendrick retired 14 in a row after giving up the blast to Werth. His first inning troubles are inexplicable. Kendrick has tried longer bullpens, lengthy discussions with pitching coach Bob McClure. He has done everything short of asking the Phillies to start a reliever for an inning and pick it up in the second frame.

“It’s weird,” Kendrick said. “I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

Well, the Phillies offense was silent until the team was well out of the game. Ryan Howard was 0-12 in the series. But Howard isn’t the only reason the team has difficulty supporting its pitchers. It’s a collective effort. The Phillies have scored three runs or less in an astounding 41 of its 95 games. That’s hardly a recipe for success. The line in spring training was that if the core players and complementary parts stayed healthy, the Phillies offense would improve considerably but it hasn’t.

“That part’s been surprising,” Sandberg said.

It’s been surprising that a $180 million team can be so unproductive. Can the Phillies rebound in the second half? Werth, who was a one-man wrecking crew Saturday and Sunday, believes the Phillies have more to offer than they displayed over the weekend and the first half of the season.

“I know what those guys can do,” Werth said. “They’re better than this. I can’t explain what’s happening over there.”

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