Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Woe is Lidge

A year removed from his perfect season, Brad Lidge has reverted to his former Houston self.
Lidge gave up a leadoff single to Wil Nieves then Alberto Gonzalez recorded a ground out to third. Gonzalez was nearly safe after an errant throw by Pedro Feliz but Ryan Howard made the catch and applied the tag to relieve a little pressure from Lidge.
But, Nieves was on second with one out. So, as a great closer should do, Lidge hit Willie Harris with a pitch and walked Cristian Guzman. All of Philadelphia collectively held its breath for the umpteenth time this season.
Until Charlie Manuel had enough and walked out to the mound took the ball from Lidge and called for Ryan Madson from the bullpen...finally. Luckily, Madson got out of the jam with a strikeout and groundout but the bases loaded predicament should have never been an issue.
Now I know last year was epic. Only the Lord saved more than Lidge (sorry Bernie Parent). It would be unjust for anyone to expect Lidge to perform at the same level as he did last year. But Lidge has 10 blown saves this year (which should be 11 if it weren’t for Madson saving him last night). It’s just too many for a team to make another World Series run.
The only thing epic about this season is Lidge may beat the single season blown save record of 14 held by Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Bob Stanley and Ron Davis. With 26 games remaining, Lidge could definitely vie for the record.
Lidge has appeared in 58 games this season. Upon his first blown save of the season he received a standing ovation. Fans may wish they could take it back after seeing Lidge blow nine other games this season. To think, the Phillies could be 13 games up in the East right now if it weren’t for Lidge’s seven losses. 13 GAMES! It would make the Phillies the top team in the National League and second in the majors only to New York (the Yankees not the Mets…do I really have to remind you?).
After the game last night, Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said [on taking Lidge out in the ninth], “Winning the game is what it's all about - that's baseball and that's why I manage and that's what comes first.”
It’s great to see Manuel is being a manager rather than a friend. During the past nine blown saves, Lidge was like a sitting duck and opposing teams took advantage.
Some blame Lidge’s knee for his recent woes. I believe it’s more mental than anything for the guy. He did the same thing in Houston. After a career high 42 saves in 2005, Lidge returned in 2006 with six blown saves then in 2007 with eight blown saves. This year he leads the league in blown saves and the league average is roughly four.
Whether his right knee is completely healed or not, we’ll never really know. But before October hits the Phillies need to figure out who they’re going to use in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line.

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