by Ron on October 3 at 7:31PM
In 1991, Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent announced that South Florida and Denver were the sites of the National League Expansion Committee's selection for two new teams. Two years later the Rockies were born when Colorado opened the 1993 home season on April 9th in Denver against the Montreal Expos in front of a 80,277 baseball hungry people at Mile High Stadium. Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies now play, opened in 1995.

Since that inaugural opening, the Rockies have made it to the playoffs once; in 1995 when they lost to Atlanta in the division series, 3-1. Eleven straight years the Rockies were playoff-less. Rockies manager, Clint Hurdle, 1978 Sports Illustrated cover boy, has had four straight losing seasons and by now would have been lynched by 610 talk-radio. But Hurdle and his Rockies are making up for lost time and are on quite a roll winning 15 out of their last 16 games and beating the Phillies yesterday, 4-2, at Citizens Bank Park.

But wait, don't throw away that rally towel just yet. The kid pitches today.

Kyle Kendrick was drafted by the Phillies in the seventh round in 2003. In 2004 he pitched 15 games at Lakewood and 13 games at Batavia, going 5-16, with a 5.77 ERA. His mother wrote to him often and recommended that he take the SAT test and forget about this fantasy of throwing a baseball past an ash bat. Because the bat was winning.


Now fast forward to 2007 where the 22 year old Kendrick is at Reading and the ash bats are still winning. He is 4-7  with a 3.21 ERA. But somebody saw something because 22 year old kids who are 4-7--at double A not triple A, mind you--aren't usually invited to the show. But sure enough, on June 13, 2007, he faced the Chicago White Sox before 42,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. He went six innings, gave up 3 earned runs,  walked two, struck out four, and handed the ball over to four relief pitchers. Ryan Madson got the win.

Since June 13 the kid has gone 10-4, with a 4.57 ERA and has earned a spot in the Phillies rotation this year and most likely next year, too. But as fate will have it, Kendrick turned down a football scholarship from Washington State University. Instead, the kid took the Phillies $135,000 signing bonus and the nationally ranked high school quarterback reported to the low minor leagues.

In order for Kendrick to be successful this afternoon, he has to keep the ball down. So early on, if he isn't getting a lot of ground balls, he could be in trouble. And if he gets in trouble, it may get late early for the Phillies, who can't afford to lose two home games in a first-team-that-wins-three series.

The righthander Kendrick will face the 21 year old rookie lefthander Franklin Morales, who signed for $50,000 with Colorado our of Venezuela at the tender age of 16, even before he took his driving test. You can be sure that young Morales will be firing smoke and Hurdle will try to get all he can from him before turning to his bullpen. Morales is 3-0 in his last four starts, allowing just three runs in 22 innings, and this kid throws hard: A 70 mph curve ball and a fast ball that runs in the low 90's. Which means, to the Phillies' hitters, he can come at your hard, or slow and soft.

Today's kid vs kid match up will be interesting to see who can last the longest.

For the Phillies, Chase Utley has to get back on track after yesterday's oh for four outing. But Chase isn't the only one who had to stand in the corner after the game. Charlie Manuel also punished Shane Victorino (0-4), Ryan Howard (0-4, three whiffs), and Wes Helms (0-2). This is playoff baseball, a couple of 0 for 4's and there may be no tomorrow. The Phillies skipper will have to decide on using Jason Werth in right today instead of Victorino.

So rookie vs rookie, kid vs kid, the Phillies go into today's game needing a win. Let's just hope our kid outlasts their kid.

Are you scratching your head over the inner-city school problem?



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