Mastering lefties key to Kyle Kendrick's progression

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick sits in the dugout in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in Cincinnati. Kendrick pitched seven innings before leaving the game with the score tied 0-0. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

CINCINNATI — Like every one of his teammates, Kyle Kendrick went to sleep after playing Tuesday not knowing the game's outcome.

"That's a first," Kendrick said.

A tied, scoreless game hung in the balance because Kendrick pushed it to that point with seven stellar innings. He struck out four and never permitted a Reds runner to reach third. The key to his success was quality work against Cincinnati's stingy lefthanded batters — Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Combined with another lefty, Xavier Paul, those hitters went 0 for 11 with a walk vs. Kendrick.

Lefties smoked Kendrick in his first two starts for a .480 (12 for 25) batting average.

"It feels like every team I face, all I face is lefties," Kendrick said. "If I don't give up any hits, they're not going to hit me. There are only a couple of righties in every lineup I face. That's why I think the numbers are like that. Lefties will have just a little more success because I face more lefties."

Actually, Kendrick has pitched to the same amount (39) of righthanded and lefthanded batters through his first three starts. And last season, Kendrick's platoon split was an even 50 percent.

Lefties have just always succeeded against him, that is, until 2012. He flipped a career trend by holding lefties to a .701 OPS against. Righties posted a .760 OPS. Continuing that is paramount for Kendrick.

"I'm a different pitcher," Kendrick said. "I can pitch in to more lefties now. Throw more strikes. Keep them off. It's not just one side of the plate."

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