By Todd Zolecki, Phillies.com
NEW YORK — The Phillies left Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon with the same group that arrived Monday.
Trades? Not yet.
Less than 24 hours remain before Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, so there is still time to pull the trigger on a deal, but the reality is less than promising. In the meantime, the Phillies lost an opportunity to win consecutive series for the first time since late April with an 11-2 loss to the Mets.
“I’m just going to wait and see what happens with the process, then go from there,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about the impending Deadline. “If we stay together as a group, like I said, there are games to be played and there are teams we can try to catch by playing better baseball and putting wins together.”
But it would seem change would benefit the team in some form, right?
“I don’t know,” Ryan Howard said. “Really, I don’t know. I really hadn’t thought too much about it right now. I probably have to think about that a little bit and get back to you.”
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick said when asked what needs to be done to improve. “Just win ballgames. Find a way to win.”
Kendrick has not found that terribly easy for the past year. From July 31, 2013, through Wednesday, he is 6-17 with a 5.41 ERA in 31 starts. He allowed seven hits, four runs, two walks, one home run and struck out four in six innings Wednesday as he fell to 5-11 with a 4.92 ERA this season.
Kendrick will be a free agent after the season, but he said free agency isn’t on his mind.
“I haven’t been thinking about it much,” Kendrick said. “I think I worried about it more last year than this year, honestly. This year, the first innings were tough there, got past that. And now it’s seems like it’s one inning here, one inning there.
“I felt pretty good about how I threw today. It was just one bad inning. That’s kind of how I’ve got to put it. Just got to hang with it. I want to stay healthy, get some innings and let next year happen next year.”
The Phillies have been looking to trade starting pitchers Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett before the Trade Deadline. If Kendrick had been pitching better, the Phillies likely could have spun him to a contending team because he is owed a little more than $2.5 million the remainder of the season, a more-than-comfortable price for teams.
But again, the results have not been there.
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Ben Revere doubled, stole third with two outs and scored on Howard’s double to left-center field. It snapped a 0-for-12 slump for Howard.
But Kendrick immediately gave back the one-run lead in the bottom of the inning. He allowed back-to-back singles to Juan Lagares and Ruben Tejada to start the frame. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third, and Kendrick then walked Curtis Granderson to load the bases.
A wild pitch scored Lagares to tie the game, and Daniel Murphy broke the tie when he ripped a 2-1 sinker to left field for a three-run home run to make it 4-1.
Pinch-hitter Jimmy Rollins hit a solo homer to right in the seventh to cut into the Phillies’ deficit and make it 4-2. It was his 15th homer of the season. But things got worse from there as Mario Hollands, Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont allowed seven runs in two innings to turn the game into a rout.
The Phillies’ bullpen had a 4.86 ERA in 43 appearances through May 22. It had a 2.29 ERA in 48 appearances from May 23-July 11, but has regressed recently, posting a 6.70 ERA in its last 15 appearances.
“Guys just aren’t producing,” Kendrick said about the team’s overall struggles. “Guys just are having tough years, bad years. It’s baseball. Obviously, you want to have a good year every year, but hopefully we can find a way to get better. Like I said, I’ve just got to go out and do my job. That’s all I can worry about.”
The front office is worrying about the entire puzzle, which is missing numerous pieces.
And if everything remains the same? What can be gained from the status quo?
“Just continue to battle,” Sandberg said. “It’s fun to win games. Putting wins together, that’s even more fun. When you have a schedule, you continue to battle. There come goals of catching the teams in front of you, and you need to play better baseball to do that.”