Tom Gordon will return to his rightful place at the back of the Phillies bullpen this weekend.
The veteran closer, who missed nearly three weeks with shoulder soreness, proved he is healthy and ready to return from the disabled list by toying with Florida State League hitters for two innings Thursday night.
Gordon, pitching for Class A Clearwater, struck out three, walked one and got an outing-ending double play against Dunedin. Gordon might not have been available for Friday's game against the Braves which was washed out by rain, but with rosters expanding Friday, he can be activated from the DL without a numbers problem.
Left-hander Arthur Rhodes has led the mix-and-match replacement of Gordon, but he blew a save Thursday night in a 6-5 loss to the Nationals.
"It'll help us put this (loss) behind us when we see Flash in there," Rhodes said. "It's going to be nice to see Flash back in the bullpen with us."
Without Gordon, the Phillies lost a game that they led entering the ninth inning for the first time this season. The Nationals scored two runs in the ninth Thursday to tie it, then two more in the bottom of the 10th to take a 6-5 victory.
NOTES & QUOTESRyan Howard finished August with monstrous numbers: 14 homers, 41 RBI, 22 walks and a .348 average. He'll see more pitching he likes this weekend in Philly when the Braves come to town. Howard is 17-for-40 (.425) with three homers and nine RBIs against Atlanta this season, and hitting .390 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 77 at-bats for his career against the Braves.
Howard's 49th homer of the season Thursday set a franchise single-season record, topping the mark set by Mike Schmidt in 1980.
Carlos Ruiz has been called Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre's best hitter by manager John Russell in the reports given to Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel.
Ruiz, whom the Phils recalled Thursday, didn't show much of that ability during his brief time in the majors earlier this year. He hit .205 with one homer and three RBIs in 44 at-bats, including a 5-for-35, one-RBI performance in 10 starts in May when C Mike Lieberthal was on the disabled list.
"He'll get to catch some," Manuel said, noting that Lieberthal has been battling a sore back lately.
Ruiz hit .307 with 16 homers and 69 RBI in 100 games for Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, and Manuel believes he eventually will hit in the majors.
"I feel like he's a big-league player," Manuel said. "Sometimes it takes awhile to get used to it. He has to convince himself that he belongs here. Once he gets some experience, he'll be fine."
Jimmy Rollins hit .344 in August, raising his average from .261 entering the month to .281 leaving it.
David Dellucci ended his 3-for-26 slump with an RBI triple in the second inning Thursday.
AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre
Justin Germano (10-6) threw eight strong innings as the Red Barons beat Syracuse 3-2 Friday night, officially winning the North Division title. Germano retired 14 straight hitters at one point and finished the night allowing just four hits and no walks. One of the hits was a homerun by Wayne Lydon to lead off the game. It was after that blow that Germano settled in to get the next 14 hitters.
Brian Sanches added some ninth inning drama, giving up a two-out solo homerun to cut the Red Barons’ lead to one. He came back and picked up his third strikeout of the inning to end the game and clinch the division. Sanches earned the save, his 19th of the season.
Thursday night, Gavin Floyd got a no-decision, throwing eight innings and allowing four earned runs on three hits and three walks as Syracuse beat the Red Barons in 15 innings and postponed their celebration. Seung Hak-Lee (8-9) took the loss, allowing two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief work. The Red Barons scored a run in the top of the 15th inning, but Syracuse came back with two in the bottom of the inning to get the win.
AA Reading Phillies
A record crowd of 9,816 turned out at FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday, August 31 when fallen Reading Police Officer Scott Wertz and the late "Broadway" Charlie Wagner were honored before the Phillies final home game of the season vs. New Britain.
The team honored Wertz, who was killed in the line of duty on August 6, by wearing special Reading Police style jerseys that were purchased by CTCE Federal Credit Union. The jerseys, which featured the Phillies “P” in the word police, an actual Reading Police Department patch on the left sleeve and Wertz’s 045 badge number on the right, are to be auctioned off after the game to benefit a fund set up for the officer’s two sons – Josh and Jared. Hundreds of replica jerseys were also sold to benefit the boys.
Also on the minds of everyone was Wagner. The 93-year who was still employed by the Boston Red Sox was a fixture at FirstEnergy Stadium, particularly in the press box which was named for him in 2000.
Wagner passed away shortly after Wednesday’s double-header at FirstEnergy Stadium. A stirring video tribute followed by a moment of silence prior to the national anthem took place for him.
The attending media and press box staff all adopted Wagner’s famous suit and tie look in his honor. Pasta e fagioli, one of Wagner’s favorite dishes was served to the media and scouts.
"How appropriate that we would set an all-time attendance mark on a night when we honored Officer Scott Wertz and "Broadway" Charlie Wagner," said Reading Phillies General Manager Chuck Domino. "The only sad part was that the attendance wasn’t two more."
The previous record crowd was 9,803 set on August 23, 2003, also vs. New Britain. Reading will finish the season with 460,216 fans in 69 dates for an average of 6,670 per game.
The R-Phils beat New Britain 6-3 Thursday night. Reading holds on to slim playoff hopes, trailing Altoona by five games, with both teams having six games left to play. Both Reading and Altoona were rained out Friday night.
A Clearwater Threshers
Dunedin pounded Clearwater 7-2 Friday night. Derek Griffith (9-11) took the loss, giving up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. Two of the eight hits that he surrendered were homeruns. Tuffy Gosewisch homered for Clearwater, his ninth of the season.
Clearwater has been eliminated from the post-season.
The 'Claws are looking ahead to the playoffs, but that didn't stop them from putting an 8-3 whooping on the Delmarva Shorebirds Thursday night behind Carlos Carrasco (12-6). Carrasco allowed three runs on four hits and a walk over seven innings to get the win. On Friday, he picked up the honor of being named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team. Teammate Matt Maloney was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher in the SAL.
Speaking of Maloney, he’s going for a rare honor. He leads the league in wins (16) and strikeouts (172) and is second in ERA with a mark of 1.99 this season. If he can win the ERA crown, he’ll have won an unusual Triple Crown in the South Atlantic League.
The ‘Dogs were rained out Friday night. The MuckDogs are currently five games behind Auburn for the Pinckney Division title, with State College and Mahoning Valley also standing between the MuckDogs and first place. Batavia is 4 ½ games behind Aberdeen for the wild card, with five other teams between them and the top of the race, making a post-season berth nearly impossible. Batavia has six games left on their schedule.