Ian Kennedy kicked off a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies and their vaunted starting pitching staff with a terrific complete game performance against Cliff Lee, shutting out the Phillies 4-0.
The Arizona Diamondbacks had their hands full with the dart-throwing Lee, who stuck out 12 and walked one in seven innings at Chase Field. But Kennedy was better, walking none, scattering three hits and striking out ten in nine innings. Chris Young hit a two-run shot in the third, Gerardo Parra homered in the fifth, and Xavier Nady followed a Justin Upton double with a single to give the Diamondbacks some needed cushion against Lee.
With the way Kennedy was pitching yesterday, the Diamondbacks would have been fine with one run.
Kennedy is still a work in progress, a young starter who (correctly) warns against placing unrealistic expectations on starting staffs, but he's developing into the pitcher the New York Yankees once hoped he'd become. Kennedy throws strikes, watches baserunners, and keeps his team in the game, which is all you can honestly ask of a pitcher. Yesterday he was simply fantastic, coming up aces against one of baseball's stars.
Noted sportswriter and ex-minor league pitcher Pat Jordan wrote a piece on the Phillies' aces for the New York Times about a month ago, which is worth reading as the Diamondbacks face Roy Oswalt -- a personal favorite -- tomorrow, and Cole Hamels the day afterward. It would be quite an accomplishment for the Diamondbacks to take the series against the Phillies.
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Daniel Hudson has the heavy burden of following Kennedy tomorrow, but he has the stuff to handle it. Hudson has the potential to be the D'Backs' very best pitcher. The only question is whether he'll be able to bring it after the worst start of his career last week.