The City That Hates Tom Gordon

Well, Opening Day is a wrap, and once again, the bullpen is responsible for the Phillies’ first loss of the season. You may recall Ryan Madson blowing last year’s opener by serving up a two-run home run to Edgar Renteria, then of the Atlanta Braves. Today’s culprit is Tom Gordon, responsible for all five runs the Washington Nationals scored in the top of the ninth inning.

A recap of the coup the Nationals staged against the ineffective right-hander and de facto closer:

  • Lastings Milledge legs out an infield single to shortstop.
  • Nick Johnson hits a one-out RBI double to deep center field and advances to third on the throw home.
  • Austin Kearns walks.
  • Johnson scores when Carlos Ruiz tries to catch him napping off of third base when Paul Lo Duca bluffs a squeeze bunt.
  • Lo Duca doubles to left-center, scoring Kearns.
  • Ronnie Belliard doubles to deep center, scoring Lo Duca.
  • Dmitri Young hits a two-out RBI double that bounces high off of the right field fence off of reliever Clay Condrey.

Brutal.

Starter Brett Myers wasn’t sharp, but nonetheless effective. He pitched five innings, allowed five hits, walked two, allowed four runs (three of which were earned), and only struck out two.

Ryan Madson relieved Myers in the sixth inning. With two outs, Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman eked out an infield single to shortstop, and Lastings Milledge followed by jacking a two-run home run well over the left field fence.

The Phillies had opportunities but could only manage three runs in the first six innings. Chase Utley hit a sacrifice fly in the first, Pat Burrell hit an RBI single in the fourth, and Utley hit a solo homer to right field in the sixth.

The Phightin Phils did mount a comeback in the seventh. Jayson Werth led off with a walk. The gravy train appeared to be rolling when catcher Carlos Ruiz yanked an RBI double to left-center and reigning NL MVP Jimmy Rollins defended his honor by tying the game up with a two-run homer that just barely cleared the fence around the 380-foot sign, courtesy Nationals left-hander Ray King.

That was it though, as the Phils quickly went down 1-2-3 in both the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings.

Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.

Opening Day Preparation

The Washington Nationals are now in Philadelphia following an exciting Opening Day 3-2 win last night against the Atlanta Braves that saw third baseman Ryan Zimmerman christen new Nationals Stadium with a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Odalis Perez — who drew interest from a new teams including the Phillies — started for the Nats and was stunningly effective: 5 innings, four hits, one walk, and one run — a solo homer to Chipper Jones.

Lefty Matt Chico will start for the Nationals as Brett Myers takes the hill for the Phillies in the Citizens Bank Park season opener. Keep an eye on Nationals closer Chad Cordero. He was warming up to come in for the ninth inning to try and nail down a 2-1 lead, but he never came in, and was instead replaced by Jon Rauch, who blew the save. Cordero has right shoulder tendinitis and it may prevent him from appearing in any games against the Phillies.

Obviously, the Phillies’ 25-man roster is now set, and the only surprises should be Tim Lahey and Wes Helms. Lahey was just acquired and he has to stay on the 25-man roster or be offered back to the Cubs, as it goes with Rule-5 acquisitions. Helms somehow made it onto the roster despite being a player having no purpose, quite literally. Most (or maybe just me) thought that he’d be dealt before the end of spring training. There were rumors, including a trade to San Francisco for lefty reliever Steve Kline, but that deal fell through and Kline was simply dropped by the Giants. With Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett on the roster, Helms shouldn’t see a great deal of time — or any — at third base. Nor should he see any time at first base with Ryan Howard there and plenty of other players able to man the position at a higher level, and it’s extremely unlikely they’d use him in a corner outfield spot unless there are a rash of injuries.

I feel sorry for Helms despite all of the items I threw at my TV screen last year after many of his at-bats.

Some Publicity

Chris Illuminati of PhillyBurbs.com and I corresponded on a piece they were doing called “The Must-Have Book Guide” for the upcoming baseball season. I, of course, suggested The Bill James Handbook. Check it out here if you’re interested.

Tim Malcom of Phillies Nation organized a “Phloggers Roundtable” — a discussion of the 2008 Phillies team by the bloggers that cover them. I was joined by Tom Goyne of Balls, Sticks, & Stuff as well. Unfortunately, there were a few who weren’t able to make it but some did participate later on, including Enrico Campitelli of The 700 Level, Erik Grissom of Phillies Flow,  and GM Carson of We Should be GM’s.

Click here to check out the “Phloggers Roundtable” at Phillies Nation. My contributions are in teal-colored text.