Who can blame Charlie Manuel for going to the well over and over again when the water is this sweet!?
Clearly Tom Gordon doesn’t object. Let’s just hope his body goes along for the ride.
For the fourth straight game the 38-year old Gordon earned a save as the Phils returned home and beat Atlanta at the Bank last night. This isn’t Hoyt Wilhelm out there, folks, serving up 58 MPH butterflies. Mr. Gordon is bringing serious heat and benders every time out. In the process he has taken over the NL lead in saves with nine. And, oh, by the way, the guy he replaced, what’s his name, blew his third save of the season last night though his team eventually won in 12 innings.
The other feel good story is the continued heroics of Aaron Rowand. The Phils knew they had acquired a terrific centerfielder in Rowand, but the concern was could he regain his batting form after a somewhat disappointing 2005 that included too many strikeouts. Thus far Rowand has hit well including the game-winners two nights in a row. But his defense and offense may not be Rowand’s greatest contributions to this team. Listening to interviews with him and reading his comments in the paper it is abundantly clear this is one upbeat guy, a quality not found in great quantity on this mostly dour team.
The Phils win last night against John Smoltz featured a key element when facing the great Atlanta right-hander: score on him early. Smoltz had his wicked slider working from the get go, but every time he tried to sneak a fastball by someone the Phillies were all over the pitch. When he was removed in the seventh inning Smoltz appeared to be getting stronger not weaker.
On the other side, Brett Myers pitched well except for a hanger Andruw Jones deposited somewhere just south of Trenton. Myers was staked to a three-run lead by his mates and managed to hold the fort before surrendering the home run to Jones that knotted the score a three apiece. By all standards it was a good outing for Myers who now holds the distinction in this rotation of being the only guy who consistently keeps his team in the game.