Try to mix in a few strikes…

OK. Admit it. At the start of the season how many of the Phillies fans out there thought that on June 20 that Freddy Garcia and Kyle Kendrick would have the exact same amount of wins?

Actually, let’s rephrase that to something else…

At the start of the season how many Phillies fans knew who Kyle Kendrick was? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “Not many.”

Believe it or not, Kendrick might have some advantages over Garcia when taking the mound against big leaguers despite only pitching in 12 games above Single-A. First of all, Kendrick, just 22, is a mystery to the opposition. Like Phillies fans, the Tigers and Indians probably never even heard of the slender right-hander until he took the mound. That definitely gives the pitcher an advantage.

Secondly, Kendrick isn’t attempting to pitch with an injury unlike Garcia was. That makes a bit of difference, too.

Thirdly, and most importantly, Kendrick throws strikes. In his two outings Kendrick has had a 0-1 count on 22 on of the 50 hitters he has faced. As a result, opponents have hit just .239 against the young righty, compared to .318 off Garcia.

How about this one:

Garcia pitched at least six innings in four of his 11 starts. Kendrick is two-for-two.

See what happens when a healthy pitcher no one has heard of throws strikes?

***
Perhaps even more important than all of it – the health, the strikes and unfamiliarity – is that Kendrick has some fielders making the plays behind him. According to CSN resident honcho, Rob Kuestner, the Phillies were flashing the leather behind the kid. Nope, that’s not a cliché, either, because Rob introduced that bit of vernacular to our popular lexicon.

To that I say half of good pitching is good defense. Don’t believe me? How about a story proving this to be the case from the paper of record? According to a story in The New York Times by Dan Rosenheck, the statistical posse has showed that good pitchers are just as likely to be lucky as good.

How about this line from last night:

9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 92 pitches – 57 strikes.

That’s what Johan Santana did to the Mets in a 9-0 victory last night. Is that lucky or good?

***
According to reports, 1994 called and wanted its facial hair trend back from Geoff Geary.

Come on… I kid. I kid.

***
Here’s the nicest thing anyone could say about an athlete/celebrity: “He gets it.”

Jim Furyk is one of those guys who gets it.

As one of the top golfers in the world, Furyk could very easily wall himself away from everyone and everything. He could hire an army of publicists and managers whose main job was to tell other people “no” and then be sycophants.

Certainly there are less talented and less accomplished folks than Furyk who have done just that. But the thing about Furyk is that he remembers where he came from. He knows that if it all ends tomorrow and he can’t play golf ever again, the folks who helped him on his way up will be the ones there for him on the road back down.

The guys who get it know that.

So despite the Ryder Cups and the top 10 finishes at all of the major tournaments, Furyk takes time out for the local press. He returns to the area for clinics and exhibitions and sometimes he even brings some of his famous friends. At the same time he hasn’t forgotten his friends from school, either, even though he doesn’t have to do any of it.

He does because he gets it.

It seems as if Floyd Landis, the star-crossed winner of the 2006 Tour de France gets that, too. Like Furyk, Landis appears to have a little army of friends from the old days ready to protect him. Certainly Floyd and Furyk have different issues right now, but taking care of your roots doesn’t seem to be a problem for either of them.

No, the last few paragraphs have nothing to do with anything, but sometimes I just feel like giving credit where it’s due.

***
Speaking of Floyd, the good folks at Simon & Schuster sent me a copy of his book and I should be diving in by the weekend. As promised, I will give the tome a full review.

***
If you’re like me, a good vacation would be one where you load the car up with some nice, expensive gasoline, load everyone in, tune up the iPod to the stereo and hit the road. Because of that, the Frugal Travel series in The Times has been quite riveting.

Check it out.

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