This is the way it was supposed to be, if you believed what you witnessed during spring training. Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown were going to provide the power and production for the Phillies in 2013.
The left-handed sluggers each blasted seven homers during the Grapefruit campaign. Since the season commenced, their power numbers have not been so impressive and the Phillies' offense has been inconsistent.
But Thursday night Brown, who had three hits, and Howard each clubbed homers as the Phillies cruised to a 7-2 win over the hapless Marlins. Each now has four homers on the season.
“Brown had a good night tonight,” Charlie Manuel said. “He hit the ball good and he had a good swing all night. After he hit his home run, he looked like he was trying to hit another one but that’s common. It’s a matter of controlling your adrenaline, staying even keel.”
Manuel raved about Brown during spring training. He was thrilled with his work ethic, shape and his new found ability to soak up advice from his coaches.
“He’s learned a lot about himself and baseball,” Manuel said. “He’s listening to (hitting coaches) (Steve) Henderson and Wally Joyner. It’s good for him. Brownie is a lot more receptive to things now. It took him awhile to get used to being around a Major League team. He’s getting better. I always said he would become a good hitter. I’m not just saying that because he got some hits tonight. He has the talent to be a good hitter, a high-average hitter and a power hitter.”
Kyle Kendrick has also always had potential and the Phillies' fourth starter is living up to it. Kendrick not only improved to 3-1. He has become the stopper in a rotation that boasts two Cy Young Award winners and a guy who has NL and World Series MVP hardware on his mantel.
“I’ve always expected this out of myself,” Kendrick said. “I know it hasn’t been there in the past, like I would have wanted it, like the fans would have wanted it, like my teammates, the coaches, my organization have wanted. But I’ve expected this. Hopefully I can be consistent like that every time out and give us a chance to win the game. As a starting pitcher, I feel very comfortable and confident.”
Kendrick has great expectations, which he is finally meeting. Over his last 16 starts, he has a 2.43 ERA. And over the long haul, Kendrick has 57 wins since being called up in June 2007.
Manuel is impressed with Kendrick's work ethic.
“I think the last two years he has come up with a harder workout routine,” Manuel said. “He has gotten stronger at his core. That’s helped him as a pitcher. His sinker is better. He did a good job. They hit some balls hard on him but he made pitches when he had to.”
It was a huge win for the Phillies after getting crushed in two consecutive games in Cleveland.
“We needed a win,” Kendrick said. “And that’s exactly what we got.”