Phillies (6-7) at Cincinnati Reds (6-7)

First pitch at 7:10 p.m.

So, things haven’t exactly been going well for the Phillies in the clutch lately.

First, there was the offense with men on and/or in scoring position for, say, Games 1 thru 8. Then, there was the ninth-inning blunder in that Game 2 walk-off loss against Miami. And last night, Cliff Lee uncorked a wild pitch (that Erik Kratz probably should've gotten to, and that Carlos Ruiz probably does) to score a runner in the seventh, and Laynce Nix botched a Zack Cosart line drive in the eighth.

Something to keep an eye on for the rest of the series: will they continue to wilt under pressure?

The Phillies are 2-1 so far when they have a chance to break even.

Kyle Can-drick?

Kendrick could easily have a sub-3.00 ERA this year.

If you recall, his first time out, Charlie Manuel pulled the plug after having him intentionally walk the bases loaded with 2 outs in the sixth inning in the home opener.

Due up was Royals slugger Billy Butler. He cleared the bases on Chad Durbin.

Reason for the second-guess? Kendrick his next time out, last Wednesday against the Mets, worked out of 2 such jams without taking any damage: with the bases loaded in the second, and with runners on second and third in the fifth. After, he tossed a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning. All he allowed were 2 runs off solo shots.

Yet early on, Kendrick is looking up from a 1-1 mark and 5.40 ERA. “What If?” game, commence.

Kendrick’s 0-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 3 starts against the Reds since 2010, and has gone at least 6 innings in each. Last year, he hurled 6 innings of 2-run ball but took a loss on the road on Sept. 9.

In 3 of 6 career starts vs. Cincinnati – his first 3 – Kendrick served 4 runs in 6 or fewer innings. His last two times out, though, he’s allowed just 2 or fewer.

Kendrick is 1-2 with 5.71 ERA in 3 career starts at Great American Ballpark.

A couple of Reds have got to him. Jay Bruce (5 for 11 with 2 home runs and a double) and Joey Votto (4 for 10 with a home run and a double) are over .400 all-time and have OPSes over 1.200, while Brandon Phillips has gone 5 for 17 (.294).

Of note, he’s faced Cincy as a reliever just once: in May of 2011.

The Other Guy

Obscure thing that may (not) matter: Homer Bailey’s 2 starts this year for the Reds have resulted in a 15-0 win over the Nationals and a 10-0 loss to the Cardinals.

Something with some more tack: Bailey’s fastball velocity is exhibiting something of an uptick this year, up to 93.5 m.p.h. this year from 92.4 m.p.h. in 2012. This makes for his hottest stuff since 2009, when he reliably clocked over 94.0 m.p.h.

The Phillies lineup has struggled against most every mold this year – young, old, hot-throwing, soft-throwing. But seeing this Bailey after Bronson Arroyo yesterday, and then another soft-tosser in Mike Leake on Wednesday in the series finale, could be troublesome for the bats.

Stat geeks have insisted for years that Bailey’s numbers belie his true talent, and that said talent has shown over his last few years.

Still, he’s hittable, and should be someone the Phillies can, at worst, keep up with.

No surprises from Bailey this year. He’s worked in a curveball and split-fastball into his repertoire in his career, but has thrown fastballs 70.8% of the time in 2013.

Save for a slider – he uses it now and again – he’s basically one-dimensional.

Bailey’s 0-1 with a 4.42 ERA in 3 starts against the Phillies since 2010. Last year, he went 6 1/3 innings and surrendered just 3 runs (2 earned) in an eventual 5-4 Reds win at Citizens Bank Park on August 21.

Jimmy Rollins is 4 for 11 against Bailey lifetime, while Chase Utley is 4 for 17 (.235) and Ryan Howard is 4 for 15 with a double, a home run and 3 strikeouts.

This is likely to be a Laynce Nix start: John Mayberry is hitless against him in 8 plate appearances. Nix and Michael Young will see him for the first time today.