Like sands through the hour glass, the Phillies season continues toward its obvious ending — more fan disappointment and no management answers

By Sam Bush

The Phillies have squandered the momentum from last week’s five-game winning streak, losing five of their last seven games, including last night’s 4-2 loss to Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park. They need to win the remaining three games against the Braves in this four-game series to finish the homestand with a winning record. They have won just one of their first five homestands this season as they are just 18-24 overall at Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s getting close to July here,” Phillies third baseman Cody Asche said. “You’ve got to start making moves. We have a good chance with three games left with the Braves to make a little bit of a statement here. Hopefully, we can take advantage of these three games and set the tone for our [upcoming 10-game] road trip.”

It will have to start today with Roberto Hernandez pitching Game 1 and Sean O’Sullivan making his season debut in Game 2 of a doubleheader.

“We can do something with that,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Kyle Kendrick has struggled in the first inning this season — he had allowed 15 runs (13 earned runs) in the first inning in his first 15 starts — although he had not allowed a run in the first inning in his previous two.

Those struggles came back Friday.

Braves center fielder B.J. Upton entered the night with a .610 OPS, which ranked 162nd out of 169 qualifying players in baseball and 19 points higher than Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown (.591 OPS). He started the game with a single to left field. Kendrick then walked Andrelton Simmons on five pitches to put runners on first and second with no outs.

“First hitter, 1-2, I hung a curveball and then walked a guy,” Kendrick said.

Freddie Freeman stepped up and crushed a first-pitch cutter to deep center field for a three-run home run to make it 3-0. The ball sailed straight toward the Phillies’ TV broadcasters, who were working a rare game from the center-field seats. Play-by-play man Tom McCarthy stuck out his glove and caught the ball before tossing it back onto the field.

It was a fun moment following an ugly result.

“I just wanted to get ahead on Freeman,” Kendrick said. “It was a backdoor cutter, he just put a pretty good swing on it.”

Kendrick needed to face five more batters before finally getting out of the inning. He has a 9.00 ERA (16 earned runs in 16 innings) in the first inning this season. He has a 3.34 (32 earned runs in 86 1/3 innings) in every other inning he has pitched.

The only other run Kendrick allowed came in the second on Freeman’s RBI double.

“It’s hard to explain,” Sandberg said. “He’s worked on it and worked on doing up and down [before the game] simulating like it’s longer into the game. He just seems to fall behind and be too perfect. That results in some aggressive swings when he’s behind in the count. After that, he seems to figure it out.”