The first game in this three game series versus the Cincinnatti Reds started out with promise for our Phightins. Kyle Kendrick retired the first nine batters he faced, the Phillies batters were getting on base despite not being able to score, and it seemed only a matter of time before they were going to bust out against Johnny Cueto and company. Then fate stepped in, as it has many times this season, to put the brakes on any good feelings this team has had as of late.
Cincinnatti’s Scott Rolen hit his 300th career homerun off of Kendrick in the bottom of the 4th, which gave the Reds a 2-0 at that point. Rolen, as most Phillies fans know, wanted nothing more than to be traded out of Philadelphia back in 2001 and continued his verbal assault on the team and city for years after he left. So it’s only fitting that he hits this milestone homerun off of his former club that he loathed so much.
From that point forward, Johnny Cueto was dominant while pitching with a lead. Cueto pitched 8 innings, giving up just one run on six hits.
Our Kyle Kendrick didn’t fare as well, lasting 6.1 innings while giving up six runs on eight hits.
Ok, a opening game loss to the Reds wasn’t fun to watch, but it’s not in the same stratosphere as watching Juan Castro come out to bat in the ninth for Chase Utley. We learned later that Utley jammed his right thumb while sliding into second base after trying to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning. Utley is schedule to have an MRI today on the hand today.
While the Phillies weren’t playing their best ball earlier in the month, most fans understood that the massive amount of injuries to all areas of the team had finally caught up to them. It’s a testament to the team that they’re even within 3.5 games of the Braves for first place in the division after all they’ve been through this season not even 80 games into it.
However, an extended period of time without Utley could be the straw to break the back of this aching club. Jimmy Rollins is the vocal leader of the team, the one who gives them their swagger and confidence. Utley, on the other hand, is almost like the old sage of the group.
Any extended period of time without Chase would be a devasting blow to a club that has been playing much better ball over the past 10 games.