One year ago today, Dee Gordon made his major league debut, appearing as a pinch-runner and scoring a run in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Gordon’s been through a lot since then – a slow start, a disabling shoulder injury, a fantastic September, an atrocious first third of 2012, and a “mental break” that wasn’t an outright demotion only due to injuries to others – yet for the second time this series, he’s directly contributed to a crucial Dodger victory. Tonight, he came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, down 4-3 and facing incoming Phillies lefty Raul Valdes.
I’ll admit that at the time, I privately questioned whether this was the right situation for Juan Rivera, reasoning that Gordon against the lefty almost certainly wouldn’t end well. I was wrong; Gordon smacked a single to right, driving in two, and giving the Dodgers a lead they would never relinquish. Yet Gordon wasn’t done there, for in the eighth, the Phillies put a man on against Scott Elbert as Hunter Pence strode to the plate. Pence grounded sharply up the middle, potentially putting men on the corners had it gone through, but Gordon made a fantastic play not only to get to the ball but to step on the bag and throw to first, completing the 6-3 double play and ending the inning. Don’t look now, but Gordon has hits in 13 of his last 15 games, though he still hasn’t been able to nudge his OBP within striking distance of .300.
Gordon wasn’t alone, of course, not on a night where Philadelphia walked seven Dodgers and even James Loney lucked into two hits and a bases-loaded walk. (And how about cult hero Elian Herrera, who walked twice and doubled, pushing his OBP up to .390 and into hearts of Dodger fans everywhere?) The contributions were more than welcome on a night where Chris Capuano‘s taterific road tendencies shone through and the 3-4 hitters in the lineup – Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera (for one at-bat), and Andre Ethier – combined to go 0-9. Ethier in particular has been struggling lately, going hitless in his last seventeen at-bats.
The Dodgers, improbably, have taken the first three games of the four game set in Philadelphia, home of more than a few bad memories. Can we dare to dream that Aaron Harang outlasts Cole Hamels tomorrow for the sweep? With a three-game advantage, a matinee after a night game, and a cross-country trip to Seattle ahead without a day off, expect Don Mattingly to roll out the “house money” lineup. But hey, maybe we’ll finally get to see Shawn Tolleson, right? Kenley Jansen will almost certainly be unavailable after working tonight for the third night in a row and fourth in five – and making it uncomfortably interesting in finishing it off, needing 32 pitches and obviously laboring. Actually, tomorrow might not be enough. Let’s not see him again until Dodger Stadium, okay?