New York-Phildelphia: Pitching and Defense Cost Phils at Shea

Todd TranauskyCorrespondent IApril 9, 2008

Poor Philadelphia defense led the New York Mets to defeat the Phillies 8-2 on a cold, rainy Wednesday night at Shea Stadium.

Mike Pelfrey got the win in his first start of the season for the Mets.  Kyle Kendrick took the loss, going only two and one-third innings.

As is so often the case in baseball, pitching and defense determine the outcome. That was the case in the middle game of the three-game series.

The Phillies committed four fielding errors behind starter Kendrick, who had the shortest outing by a Phillies starter so far. No team can win giving the opposition extra outs the way the Phils did on Wednesday night and expect to win.

Eric Bruntlett made two separate fielding errors at shortstop, which opened the floodgates for the Mets decisive six-run third inning. That inning included a wild pitch, and three of the Phils errors. This is the second time in the Phillies opening nine games they have committed four errors in a game.

This kind of lackadaisical play defensively cannot be tolerated, especially in a division as competitive as the National League East in a game against your archrival in the division.

These kinds of defensive lapses show a lack of a focus and that manager Charlie Manuel has not instilled the proper focus and attention to detail that this team needs.

Kendrick didn’t exactly help himself on the mound. The young right-hander is entering his first full major league season, and tonight he looked like a pitcher with only that iota of experience. Kendrick walked six hitters in the first two innings and seven for the game.

Kendrick was reminiscent of many a Class-A pitcher who has electric stuff, but no idea where it is going once it leaves his hand.

Kendrick is a sinkerball pitcher and when he was missing, he predominately missed up and away. This is an indication that he had no ability and command of his fastball, which allowed hitters to take his off-speed pitches because they didn’t have to worry about a fastball.

The early walks could have contributed to the shoddy defense, but the infielders need to make plays regardless of the situation. If Bruntlett is unable to play capable defense in Jimmy Rollins’ absence, it could make for a long season.

Mike Pelfrey came out after a 12-day layoff and allowed two runs in his five innings of work. Pelfrey had his first start of the season rained out in Atlanta last Friday night, and had not pitched to hitters since his final spring training appearance. Pelfrey showed no signs of rust from the long layoff as he vies for the fifth spot in the Mets rotation.

The Phils need to improve their focus and their defense if they hope to compete for a division crown this season. Lapses, like those committed tonight, must be minimized and forgotten so that the team can move forward and look to wining a key early April series against their division rivals.