Duel of the Iron Arms – Phillies 1, Marlins 0

He certainly didn’t serve up any meatballs tonight.

Let’s be honest here, I was not feeling much looking at tonight’s pitching matchup. Josh Johnson, the Marlins marquee pitcher, had a 2-1 record and a 1.75 ERA in his last four starts (and has been pitching better overall than his 7-8 record would have you believe). Kyle Kendrick, on the other hand, has been routinely mediocre at best, posting an 0-1 record and a 5.01 ERA in the weeks since Joe Blanton was sent on the waiver wire, culminating in him giving up six runs in 3.1 innings in a start against the Braves last week. The matchups, suffice it to say, did not look good. But as I’ve learned many times watching this sport, what happens on paper does not always dictate reality.

Kyle Kendrick would pitch seven brilliant shoutout innings, giving up just five hits while striking out six and walking none. Josh Johnson would pitch an equally serviceable game over eight, with the sole blemish in his line coming in the first inning. On the night when he was poised to overtake Larry Bowa for the record of most games played by a Phillies shortstop (1730), Jimmy Rollins smashed a leadoff home run on the second pitch of the game to put the Phillies up 1-0. And that would be all the offense of note in the game from either side. The bullpen came in to take over for Kyle in the eighth inning, with the conisistent Josh Lindblom getting an easy 1-2-3 inning and Jonathan Papelbon recording his 26th save of the season, getting Giancarlo Stanton to ground out weakly to second to end the game.

With this win, the Phillies improve to 54-62, eight games under .500 and steadily climbing out of a seemingly insurmountable deficit. Better late than never, I suppose.

Congratulations to Jimmy Rollins for 1,731 wonderful Phillies games.