PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel opens every postgame press conference at Citizens Bank Park the same way:
He starts by reading the starting pitcher's line.
But Manuel could not bring himself to do it following Wednesday's 12-6 loss to the Braves. Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick allowed seven hits, six runs, three walks and one home run in just 3 1/3 innings. Manuel seemed particularly bothered by the pace of the game and the amount of runs Kendrick allowed in a grueling second inning.
He seemed so bothered, in fact, that when asked if Kendrick would make his next scheduled start on Tuesday in Miami, Manuel would not commit.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll talk about that. [Pitching coach] Rich [Dubee] and I will talk about it. I mean, we don't have too many options."
Kendrick threw 50 pitches in the second inning to bring the game to a crawl, walking three batters and allowing three hits and four runs to erase Jimmy Rollins' 40th career leadoff home run in the first inning to give Atlanta a 4-1 lead.
The bullpen later fell apart after the Phillies scored five runs in the fifth inning to tie the game, which included a game-tying three-run home run from Ryan Howard. But Kendrick seemed to be on Manuel's mind.
Manuel and Dubee have said countless times that Kendrick is at his best when he has a good tempo on the mound.
The slower the game, the more he seems to struggle.
"That's good," said Manuel, when a reporter opined that it didn't look like Kendrick was aggressive in the second inning. "You're watching the game. He slows the game down. Yeah, he does. That's the tempo and rhythm I talk about sometimes. He slows the game down. He sets a slow pace. And at times it takes the starch out of your team. Jimmy starts the game with a home run. We're up and ready to go. Yeah, then when you slow the game down it kills the momentum of the game."
Said Kendrick: "I think that's everybody. Whoever is going good, they're in a good rhythm. When you're struggling and trying to find the zone, that's how it is."
Kendrick recovered in the third, but allowed a two-run home run to Michael Bourn in the fourth to hand the Braves a 6-1 lead. Manuel heard cheers as he emerged from the dugout to remove Kendrick from the game. Kendrick heard boos.
Kendrick is 4-9 with a 4.86 ERA this season. He will make $4.5 million next year, and at the moment he is the most likely candidate to pitch behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley in the 2013 rotation. Of course, with the Phillies turning their focus to 2013 following the trades of Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, everybody has been asking if Philadelphia will ever take a look at Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Tyler Cloyd.
Cloyd entered Wednesday 11-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 18 starts with Lehigh Valley. But the Phillies and other talent evaluators in baseball don't appear to be very high on Cloyd. MLB.com doesn't even list him among the organization's top 20 prospects. He throws in the 80s, so he doesn't have great stuff. But he gets guys out.
Maybe the Phillies give Cloyd a shot before the end of the season. Maybe not.
But the possibility seems a bit more likely after Wednesday. Asked if his night was frustrating, considering how much a strong finish could solidify his spot in the rotation next season, Kendrick said, "I guess that's how it is with me. It's been, 'What have you done for me lately?' You always want to pitch good. I've said that before. Yeah, it was a bad outing."
He said he isn't sure if he will make his next start.
"I don't know," he said. "Like I said, who knows? I'll be prepared, but it's out of my hands."
Is it something he will think about?
"What am I going to worry about?" he said. "I've been sent to the bullpen. I've been there before. I can pitch there."
But Kendrick does not want to pitch there. He wants to pitch in the rotation. It remains to be seen if he will be there Tuesday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.