There were quite a few uninformed fans who characterized today’s Rox 6-4 win in Cincinnati as “Kendrick blew up again.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yep, 4 earned runs got charged to him – but a closer look shows he didn’t deserve that at all.
In fact, Kendrick cruised through the first seven innings. He was throwing strikes and getting ahead, and only racked up 75 pitches with 49 strikes. He had the luxury of a lead thanks to Nolan Arenado – the guy we said to watch out for in our pre-game, on a day game tear. He launched one with CarGo and Tulo on in the 1st. Charlie Blackmon followed with a HR in the 2nd with DJ LeMahieu on base. The Rox made it 6-1 in the 5th with singles from CarGo, Arenado, and Ben Paulsen.
Going into the 8th, Kendrick had yielded only a solo blast to Todd Frazier – the other guy we said to watch out for in our pre-game. Tucker Barnhart led off the 8th with another solo shot. A Billy Hamilton single and Skip Schumaker BB, and Weiss thought he’d go power lefty with Boone Logan for Joey Votto and Jay Bruce coming. That backfired, big time. Logan walked Votto and Frasier, then gave up a single to Bruce. Fortunately, Rafael Betancourt came in and shut the door with two weak pop ups.
It’s a fine line whether Weiss made the right call. There are three schools of thought. One says go with your best pitcher in the situation, so the decision was a left-on-left matchup for Votto and Bruce. Another said Kendrick was no where near pitch count distress, and even if he yielded a run or two it was OK, he should have stayed in. The other says to pull a guy with a lead and preserve it for the W, instead of letting him get tagged and take a loss, and you pay the guys in the pen to do that, so he was lifted.
Had Logan come in and not walked 2 guys right away, he might have shut that down with 0 or 1 run and looked great. Instead, he didn’t get an out. Betancourt and Axford were solid. I’m not as down on Logan as some folks, but it does seem again he has more issues coming in mid-inning and handling inherited runners. I hate the way ERA works, where Kendrick takes the damage and Logan is spotless. To me, the only run that should be counted against the exiting pitcher is the one in scoring position when the reliever comes in, not a guy who advances from first on two walks and a single.
Kendrick is trending in the right direction – if we could get 7 innings and 4 runs or less per start (and today probably should have been 3), we’d win more often than not. This was probably the best we can expect out of him, and 7.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 solo HRs, and a lot of strike-throwing is a solid effort. On a day when the ball was flying in Cincy, it was really a good outing. He isn’t an ace, and getting him out of that #1 role has done wonders.
The top of the batting order is finally starting to show up. Temper that with Mike Leake is like looking in a mirror for Rox fans, with similar struggles as our staff. This is also great for the Rox bench, getting battle-tested while Morneau and Dickerson are down.