After a terrible shaky first inning, Joe Blanton pitched some good innings against the last-place Washington Nationals on this last evening of July. The Phillies scratched and clawed their way back to gain a 4 - 4 tie and sent in Ryan Madson to pitch the eighth inning. Madson pitched as well as I have ever seen him throw the ball, notching two strikeouts and setting the stage for the top of the ninth inning.
Yes, the Phillies came up with what I thought would be the winning run as Carlos Ruiz singled home Jason Werth and the Phillies led for the first time going into Washington's last turn at bat.
Surely, I thought, Manager Charley Manual will send Ryan Madson back out for the ninth inning to finish off the Nationals. He had retired them so easily in the eighth inning and was well rested coming into the game.
But NO! TV announcers Chris Wheeler and Tom McCarthy explained that Mr. Brad Lidge had gone to Charley before the game and complained that HE - and no other pitcher - should always be brought in to pitch the ninth inning whenever the Phillies led a game by three or fewer runs. He - MR. BRAD LIDGE - was the "CLOSER" and no one else was as good as he was in that capacity. He was ANGRY when Charley failed to let him "CLOSE" a recent game and he let the Manager know about it !!! Incredibly, the announcers explained that Charley said he "LIKED BRAD LIDGE'S ATTITUDE" and therefore he - not Madson, not anyone else - was going to finish the game against the Nationals tonight.
What absolute arrogance on the part of Lidge and what absolute stupidity on the part of Manager Charley Manual !!!
I told my wife, "Watch this, Lidge will blow this game."
Well, sad to say, I was right again. Lidge had no command over his pitches. He surrendered a line drive single, then - following a bunt by Njer Morgan - couldn't find the plate when Kennedy came up and walked him. Of course he was wild to Ryan Zimmerman too, and when he finally threw a strike it was a very straight non-moving fastball right down the middle, and Zimmerman did what any good hitter would do. He met it squarely and won the game with a three-run homer.
All this on a night when the first-place Braves had lost, giving the Phillies a golden opportunity to gain another game on them. All because stupid Charley Manual let Brad Lidge talk him into believing that he (Lidge) is the wonder boy that he was back in 2008. Well, here's a news flash for you, Charley: Lidge had a very good year in 2008 - a ONCE IN A LIFETIME YEAR! During 2009 and 2010 Lidge is just another journeyman relief pitcher at best. I'm not making this up - look at the FACTS! Look at the inflated ERA! Look at all the blown leads, the blown saves, the games that could have and should have been victories.
And here's a News Flash for Ruben Amaro: You were wrong to trade Cliff Lee last winter. Roy Oswalt is not the pitcher Cliff Lee is. I hope he helps the Phillies win, but I am afraid he may not even be as good now at age 33 as J.A. Happ is going to be. If you want to make a trade, trade Brad Lidge for some young prospects. Release Dannys Baez, he's done nothing all year. I don't know why he was signed in the first place. Give that young man from Reading (Vance Worley) another shot with the big team; he looked really good in the one game he appeared in.
I don't like seeing the Phillies' Manager and General Manager treating Brad Lidge as a sacred cow. Just because he had one really good year in 2008 doesn't mean he will always perform at that level! He obviously can't. He is not a Superman, he is all too human!