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Tom Gordon Can’t Return Soon Enough

 

Come back Flash!

Since Tom Gordon injured his throwing shoulder a couple of weeks ago, no game has been a sure victory for the Philadelphia Phillies.  The 38-year-old closer has been suffering shoulder inflammation, which he feels he could play through, but the team think it’s best that he spend a few weeks off the field.  Meanwhile, his 9th-inning duties were passed on to veteran Arthur Rhodes. 

Rhodes has done a decent job for the Phillies in the closer role, saving 3 games in 4 chances.  The problem isn’t that he’s pitched poorly, it’s that the 7th- and 8th-inning relief crew is missing a vital piece.  Since Gordon’s injury, the set-up role has been given to Ryan Madson, Aaron Fultz, and at times, Geoff Geary.  While they’ve been effective on most days, all three have had their share of blow-ups. 

Today, for example, the Phillies played a see-saw game with the Washington Nationals.  Starter Randy Wolf allowed the Nats 2 first-inning runs, which the Phils were able to counter with a run in the 2nd, and another in the 4th, on Ryan Howard’s 49th homerun of the season (a solo shot).  The Phillies added 2 more runs in the 6th inning to take a 4-2 lead into the late-innings of the game.  Ryan Madson and Geoff Geary did their jobs, holding the lead through the 8th inning.  Then came disaster time for the relief corps.  Arthur Rhodes blew his first save since Gordon’s injury, allowing 2 runs in the 9th, and sending the game to extra innings, with the score knotted at 4-4.  The Phillies scored in the 10th, on a passed ball by Nats’ catcher Brian Schneider, but Washington countered with 2 runs in the bottom of the inning off Aaron Fultz, to win 6-5. 

The loss is especially significant for Philadelphia, because the Phillies are trying to separate themselves from the rest of the NL Wildcard contenders.  The lead in the Wildcard now belongs to the San Diego Padres, with the Phillies, among several other teams in the mix (Cincinnati, Houston, Florida, San Francisco, Arizona, and Atlanta are the others). 

The return of Tom “Flash” Gordon (possibly tomorrow, but definitely within a week) should quickly bring the Phillies’ bullpen back to its earlier form, and provided Flash still has some flash, the Phillies could very well sprint into October on a roll.  The bullpen is really the only hole on this team, and if it improves, there may be no stopping the Phillies. 

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