ALLENTOWN – You may have heard of how solid the Phillies rotation is. You may have heard that a former IronPig pitcher, Vance Worley, has been stellar in replacing injured fifth starter Joe Blanton.
What you may not of heard is that an outfielder-turned pitcher that was tutored by Nolan Ryan is turning a lot of heads.
Despite not having his best stuff, Brian Gordon pitched six solid innings while giving up just one run to lead the IronPigs to a 10-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings.
"I am definitely pleased about how it worked out," Gordon said. "It was one of those outings that was definitely a grind."
After three straight scoreless innings, Gordon made an irreversible mistake. Rochester second baseman Luke Hughes launched Gordon's first pitch fastball over the wall for a 1-0 Rochester lead. After the long ball, Gordon gave up a hit to Brian Dinkleman and then retired the next eight batters. The final batter, Hughes, whiffed on a Gordon fast ball.
The IL pitcher of the week two-weeks ago has been impressive all year. Despite giving up just one run in his fourth straight quality start, Gordon's ERA rose to 1.01. The homerun surrendered last night was just the second homerun in the last 83 innings pitched (34 appearances).
"He's steady Eddie. He gives up that homer early and he doesn't panic," 'Pig first baseman Tag Bozied said of Gordon performing without his best stuff. "I think that is a testament to his mindset and his confidence. It's the dynamic of his personality."
Gordon's economical 73-pitch effort ended after the sixth inning to give way to the stellar IronPig bullpen who shut the door on the Red Wings. Drew Carpenter, Michael Schwimmer, and Chance Chapman closed out the game giving up one unearned run in the ninth inning.
"I took him out after six because I felt he did his job," Sandberg said. "He's been very consistent even when he's not at his best."
Red Wing starter Ryan Mullens handcuffed Lehigh Valley holding them hitless for the first 3 inning. Lehigh Valley catcher Erik Kratz broke through by belting a solo-shot over the left-field wall to tie the game 1-1.
In the bottom of the fifth with Josh Barfied on first, Tag Bozied gave the IronPigs the lead as he sent a Mullins offering into the Bullpen for a 3-1 IronPig lead.
The IronPigs offense exploded for seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings as Lehigh Valley sent 19 batters to the plate those two frames.
Shortstop Brian Bocock and Kratz each had three hits and combined for seven RBI and every IronPig reached base safely.
Lehigh Valley (29-18) remains in first place by three games over Pawtucket and are now 20-1 in games leading after five innings.
"A game like this could jump start our lineup to the next level," said Sandberg. "That's contagious. It feels good. They can only build on that."
PIGLETS: Gordon has allowed just three earned runs in 35.2 innings this season ... second baseman Josh Barfield extended his hit streak to nine games (12-34, .352) ... The 10 runs tie for the most runs in a game this season for Lehigh Valley.