Monday, April 6, 2015

Kendrick spins seven shutout frames in Rox debut

A new team meant a new plan for Rockies right-hander Kyle Kendrick on Opening Day.
Before he flummoxed the Brewers for seven scoreless innings in a 10-0 victory -- just the second Opening Day shutout in club history -- it seemed a poor matchup. Not only was he 2-5 in seven previous starts vs. them, but four Brewers starters were .364 or better against him.
Kendrick built an eight-season career with the Phillies without being a strikeout threat. But on Monday, he fanned six Brewers -- four looking -- and gave up seven scattered singles. Kendrick credited catcher Nick Hundley, the Rockies' other key free-agent acquisition, for helping him find a new way to beat an old tormentor.
"He takes a lot of pride in calling the game," Kendrick said. "He took over the meeting this morning, talking about their hitters. I just sat back and listened. He had faced these guys quite a bit, and he was right on the number with calling pitches."
The plan -- pitch inside more than ever before to open the outside corner -- worked because Kendrick executed efficiently, with 18 first-pitch strikes to 27 batters.
"When you can sit there and feel like you're 0-1 every time a guy comes to the plate, you can do a lot off that," Hundley said.
But Kendrick's ability to escape trouble was a key reason the Rockies signed him for one year and $5.5 million, and it came into play at a key moment Monday. Kendrick hit Scooter Gennett with a sinker with two on and one out in the second, with the Rockies leading, 4-0. Runs there could have turned the game into a slugfest. But Kendrick set up Jean Segura for a 1-2 sinker that became a threat-ending double-play grounder.
"A double play with our defense there, that's what we're looking for," Kendrick said. "Nick got ahead in the count and called a good changeup."
Kendrick forced two double-play grounders, and escaped a two-on, two-out situation in the seventh by forcing pinch-hitter Luis Jimenez to pop to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
"He got some traffic in that second inning, didn't get rattled, slowed the game down and made a pitch," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Kendrick, whose start was the Rockies' best in an opener since Mike Hampton held the Cardinals to five hits in 8 1/3 innings of an 8-0 victory at Coors on April 2, 2001, also went 2-for-3 with a run scored. His fourth-inning double looked like a home run off the bat.
Not a bad way to start his time in purple.
"I just came in here wanting to do what I can -- what I did in Philly -- make my starts, give my team a chance to win," Kendrick said. "You don't think about the results. You want to go out there and execute pitches."

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