Every time someone mentions the name “Brad Lidge” now, I instantly feel sick to my stomach. It has become a Pavlovian response. And while I am not a dog, I do get a tad bitchy around the “Lidge” references. The last two years of the Phillies-Lidge experiment have been a rollercoaster ride…and not a pleasant one.
Last night, the Phils managed to squeak out 2 runs against the Padres amazing pitching staff while Roy Oswalt held their offense to just one run. Oswalt had an amazing game; the kind of game everyone hoped he would bring to Philly. But leave it to Lidge to try to sour the evening.
The 9th inning save attempt turned into another Lidge disaster. Former Phillie Matt Stairs singled to start the inning and a pinch runner came in. But Lidge got the first two outs without a problem after that. And then, the wheels fell off the wagon.
After an intentional walk to slugger Adrian Gonzalez, Lidge was ahead 0-2 to Ryan Ludwick. Yes, ahead in the count. So what does Lidge do on the next pitch? He hits Ludwick to load the bases. As if that were not bad enough, Chase Headly steps to the plate and Lidge BALKS a run home. And it was not one of those picky balk calls; it was blatantly obvious and without explanation. Lidge was not holding anyone on base; the bases were loaded! WHAT was he thinking? Wow. That was blown save #5 for Lidge this year.
The then tied 2-2 game went into extra innings. Thanks to Jimmy Rollins and Chad Durbin, the Phillies pulled out a win. Rollins led off the 12th with a double and scored on a Placido Polanco single. It was a scary play as Rollins danced around the tag at home plate and just barely got his hand on the plate to score safely. And Durbin pitched 2 scoreless innings to record the 3-2 win.
But runs were not easy to come by in the game and the Phillies still have issues hitting, especially with runners in scoring position. In the 3rd, singles by Rollins, Polanco and Chase Utley scored the 1st run but, with two men on base, Ryan Howard struck out…again. Shane Victorino had a chance to add on in the 8th with one out and the bases loaded. A sac fly would have been nice, but instead, Victorino swung at the first pitch; the weak grounder was thrown home for the force out.
Jayson Werth grounded into a double play in the 12th with 2 men on base, which blew a prime opportunity for an insurance run. Werth went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and in an odd twist, he even fell down the dugout stairs after a bad at-bat. He appeared to be ok afterwards. I hate to keep picking on Werth as I have all week, but his lack of focus is simply astounding. He is not the only one, but he has been the most obvious about it.
So while a win is a great thing, especially after losing 4 straight to the Astros, the Phillies bats had better wake up today before this road trip takes a turn for the worst. They did gain one game on the Braves with the win, so this is the time to step on the gas pedal and getting moving. Game 2 with the Padres is this afternoon at 4:10pm.
By the way, pitcher Danys Baez was placed on the DL yesterday with back spasms. Lefty Antonio Bastardo was called up to take his place.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
First let’s talk about the starter: Brett Myers gave the Phillies another quality start tonight with 6 innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 4 hits and not walking any batters. He also struck out three and really only had trouble with one batter – Ryan Ludwick. Take him out of the line-up and the Cards don’t score off of Myers at all. I think it is now safe to say that Myers has re-discovered his Mojo :o) And not a moment too soon…
Our sleepy offense was in need of a power pitching performance to pick them up! Prior to the 8th inning, the Phillies were in a full-out slumber and the only scoring was a Chase Utley solo homer in the 6th. Thanks to a 3-run home run by Shane Victorino
in the 8th inning, the offense pushed ahead of the Cards. And although a sloppy performance by JC Romero threatened to destroy the Phillies slim lead, Ryan Madson came on and bailed him out, getting a double play ground ball to end the bottom of the 8th inning.
Then, with a 5-3 score, Brad Lidge was sent to the mound for his 28th consecutive save attempt and he promptly gave up a home run to Troy Glaus, making it a 5-4 game with no outs in the 9th. It was only the second home run allowed by Lidge all year. And things just went downhill from there. Back to back singles, then Lidge actually hits Cesar Izturis with a pitch; His first hit batter of the year. The next batter strikes out; now there are 2 outs, bases loaded. Joe Mather is the next batter and finally, strikes out to end the game and end the torture for Phillies fans everywhere. Seriously, if I were ever going to toss my cookies during a game, this was it. The good news is, Lidge did show that he has the mental toughness to continue to pitch out of trouble even when it looks as if he has totally blown it. :o)
This was a HUGE win for Phillies tonight as both the Mets and Marlins lost today. Also, the Mets have lost 4 in a row and I believe 5 of their last 6. Billy Wagner blew save #7 yesterday and that always warms my heart :o) In other words, momentum has swung in our favor…not to mention a 3 game lead in the standings. Day off tomorrow then we are back home against the Fish! Until then…Go Phillies!