Philly Sports Live

Royal Letdown

The day began with so much promise.

The decorative bunting draped Citizens Bank Park. The weather, save for some strong wind, could not have been better. The Philadelphia Boys Choir greeted the team with a fantastic rendition of America the Beautiful, and the leap frogs made four perfect jumps to the field to deliver the ceremonial first pitched balls.

Those balls were thrown by Phillies’ Hall of Famer Michael Jack Schmidt, and Royals’ Hall of Famer George Brett.

The third pitch was thrown by former reliever and now community relations coordinator Dickie Noles, who famously knocked Brett down in game five of the ’80 series with a pitch around his eyebrows.

The final pitch was delivered by none other than Joe Piscopo.

An outfield wide American flag was then unfurled for the National Anthem and player introductions which through the crowd into a frenzy.

Opening day rally towels were handed out to all fans, and there in full force early on.

As for the game, well, you could call it a Royal Flush.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phils and looked good early on. He allowed just two hits and a walk through the first four innings.

The game looked promising for the Phillies offensively, as they wasted little time getting on the board. Three straight singles by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard made it 1-0 Phils in the bottom of the first. In the second, left fielder Domonic Brown continued his resurgence with a long home run to right. Two batters later, catcher Erik Kratz took Royals starter Wade Davis deep to left center for a 3-0 lead.

In the third, Utley doubled, stole third and scored on a Howard single. The Phillies led 4-0 with Kendrick seemingly cruising along.

That is when the wheels fell off.

In the top of fifth, with one out, Royals second basemen Chris Getz singled to center. Manager Ned Yost then sent veteran Miguel Tejada to pinch hit for Davis. Tejada grounded softly to shortstop, but Rollins elected to throw to second rather than take the sure out at first. Getz arrived safely at second, with Tejada on a first. The next batter was left fielder Alex Gordon who singled to right.

The bases were loaded with one out. Shortstop Alcides Escobar then grounded sharply to Howard who was able to force Getz out at the plate. With two outs now, first baseman Eric Hosmer dug in and roped a single to center field to plate Tejada and Gordon, to cut the Phillies’ lead in half at 4-2.

The very next inning, Kendrick found himself in trouble again. Royals’ third baseman Mike Moustakas led off with a single. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Moustakas out at second. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur then flied out to right for the second out. Kendrick could see his way out of the inning, but allowed a double to Getz to put runners on second and third.

With left hander Jeremy Horst throwing in the bullpen, manager Charlie Manuel made a questionable call. Yost sent Billy Butler to the plate to pinch hit for pitcher Bruce Chen who replaced Davis. Rather than pitch to Butler, Manuel elected to walk him intentionally, then pulled Kendrick from the game.

Horst was brought in to face Gordon. And all he did was rope a bases clearing triple to right center field and put the Royals ahead 5-4.

The crowd went silent with shock and disbelief. It all happened so fast.

The Phils’ bullpen, thought to be a strong point in 2013 failed to keep the deficit at one, allowing Kansas City to add plenty of insurance runs.

Horst came back out in the seventh inning, and did not record an out. He walked Hosmer to start things, and then allowed a single to catcher Salvador Perez. That was followed by a single to Moustakas. Bases loaded, and nobody out. That would be all for Horst, who departed with an earned run average north of eleven.

Chad Durbin came in to face Cain, and he netted a sacrifice fly to right field that plated Hosmer, making it 6-4 Royals. Durbin then walked Francoeur to reload the bases. Getz stepped up next, and he came through with a bases clearing triple to score Perez, Moustakas and Francoeur. The Royals’ second bases clearing triple of the afternoon made it a 9-4 advantage.

Durbin was only charged with one run and one hit; though he allowed all the runners he inherited to cross the plate.

Then in the eighth, with left hander Raul Valdes now pitching, shortstop Escobar hit a solo home run to left center, pushing the Royals’ run total to double digits. 10-4. Later in the inning, Hosmer singled and Moustakas followed that with a ground rule double to put himself and Hosmer in scoring position. Cain singled them both home for a 12-4 lead.

The Royals would tack on another run in the ninth and the final score was 13-4.

For a game that started with so much anticipation and excitement, the Phillies didn’t disappoint early.  They scored quickly and Kendrick appeared to have it going against the Royals’ lineup. Even with Kendrick getting charged with five runs, the bullpen was what really let the team down.

Deflating as Hosmer’s triple was in the sixth to put his team ahead, Charlie Manuel expected his relievers to keep the deficit at one and give his offense a chance with four innings still to play. They could not come through. The bullpen allowed eleven hits and eight of the 13 runs the Royals scored. They simply could not get outs.

The offense then went dormant after scoring early, though half of their four runs came on solo home runs. They left two men on in the first and again in the third, but really had no base runners after that. They did have Davis on the ropes which is why he was lifted after just four innings, but they could muster nothing against the Kansas City bullpen.

Not in Kansas anymore? No problems say the Royals.

The teams square off again tonight with former Washington National John Lannan taking the hill for Philadelphia. The Royals counter with Luis Mendoza.

Photo Courtesy of Byron Parry

Stats Courtesy of