Kendrick sparkles in emotional start in Philly

Righty allows a run in 6 1/3 innings in potential final home start

Kendrick sparkles in emotional start in Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Citizens Bank Park has been the only home Kyle Kendrick has even known in baseball.

The 30-year-old righty -- who was the arm behind Philadelphia's 2-1 victory over Miami on an autumn-like Saturday night -- was called up in June of 2007 to fill in for an injured Freddy Garcia. The then-22-year-old went six innings in his debut against the White Sox at Citizens Bank Park, and would go on to throw 568 1/3 more as a Phillie at home prior to Saturday. But the 6 1/3 frames he worked against the Marlins may have been his last home start for the Phillies.

Kendrick's contract will expire at the end of this season, and the thought of the uncertainty looming in his not-so-distant future pervaded his night.

"Before the game started, warming up, in between some innings, you know ... it's been a good time here for me," Kendrick said.

A pensive and emotional Kendrick, who moved into a tie with Brett Myers for 16th in starts (183) and 24th in wins (73) on the Phillies' all-time list, spoke about what this team and city has meant to him after Saturday night's win.

"I came up in this organization," he said. "A lot of teammates are still around [from] when I came up. I don't know. It's tough. I'm a pretty loyal guy. My kids were born here. Met my wife here, you know. I have a lot of things here."

The organization hasn't given Kendrick any inclination as to what their plans are for him as the offseason approaches, but Kendrick's preference is to remain in the city that has become his home.

"This is obviously my first choice," he said. "I love it here. I know the fans aren't always ... they get mad at me, I understand that. I'm used to it. But it's the only place I've played. So we'll see what happens."

Inconsistency has been a theme in Kendrick's tenure in Philly, but does his ability to eat innings -- with his 6 1/3 frames on Saturday, he reached 187 for the season, a career-high -- merit a return to a pitching staff that is hungry for starters?

"He's shown improvement, so that's yet to be seen," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I'd say the second half of the season, he's thrown the ball much better."

This season as a whole hasn't exactly panned out how Kendrick probably envisioned -- he entered the game with an 8-12 record and 4.83 ERA. In fact, the biggest storyline shadowing Kendrick all year have been his first-inning woes.

In 29 starts, Kendrick had allowed 30 earned runs in the first frame for a 9.31 ERA, and he had only recorded one 1-2-3 first inning at home this season. But in perhaps his final impression on Philly fans, he started the night off with his second, retiring Christian Yelich, Donovan Solano and Casey McGehee to set the tone.

"Might have been the sharpest that he looked in the first inning," Sandberg said. "Just command of the fastball, ahead of the hitters. A good, quick inning. So that got him off to a good start."

The only tangible damage inflicted upon Kendrick came in the second inning, when Garrett Jones hit a solo home run.

Kendrick and the Phillies received some help from Maikel Franco in the first inning. In his first career start at first base, the September callup made two plays flaunting his impressive range, especially when juxtaposed with the range of Phillies everyday first baseman Ryan Howard.

Then, in the bottom half of the inning, he singled home Ben Revere for the game's first run. Marlon Byrd then drove in Franco on a doubled that banged off the out-of-town scoreboard.

That's all the offense Kendrick would require, as a run-saving throw by Byrd in the seventh that nailed Justin Bour at the plate ensured Kendrick remained in line for the victory. He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed a run on seven hits and a walk while striking out five to pick up the win on an emotional night.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but it's out of my control," Kendrick said. "If I'm somewhere else, I'll miss it."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.