Phillies Experience A Lidge Letdown

Steve O Speak

We all knew it was coming, but could do nothing to avoid it from happening, when Brad Lidge came in against the Yankees in the 9th inning with the game on the line. There was no way this was going to end well for the Phillies. Lidge who was perfect in save opportunities last season, and brilliant on their way to the World Series, has been a disaster for the Phillies bullpen this year. What’s more disheartening for the Phillies, is last night’s game was pretty much was the end of their repeat chances.

Philadelphia had the Yankees right where they wanted them. They went into the 9th inning tied 4-4 due to a pair of late home runs (Utley in the 7th, Feliz in the 8th), and all they needed was 3 outs and and they wouldn’t face face Teixera, ARod, or closer Mariano Rivera. With the score tied the Yankees were prepared to go with Phil Coke to handle the 9th, meaning the Phillies could walk-off in the 9th without having to face the best pitcher in the game. All the Phillies had to do was get three outs and keep the score tied. Initially it looked as though Lidge would get the job done, he got Matsui to pop out and struck out Jeter. All Lidge had to do was get one more out, and he would have done his job. Lidge had so far been untouched this postseason, giving up just one hit and no runs in four innings. But that changed when Johnny Damon fought him off to get a single. Damon then stole second, but the shift was on and 3B Pedro Feliz covered second base and no one was on third. With a bad throw to second, Feliz was out of position and Damon was easily able to beat him to third base. After that you knew that Lidge wouldn’t be able to get out of the inning unscathed. When one thing goes wrong for Lidge, five things are bound to go wrong for him. What happened with Damon was in his head. And with the lead run 90 feet away, Lidge didn’t throw his nasty slider, and it left him a one pitch pitcher. A hit batter and a pair of hits later the Yankees were up 7-4, and bringing in their stopper Mariano Rivera to close out their third win of the Series.

A lot of credit should go to Damon, first in fighting off Lidge during a nine pitch at bat, to just get on base. Then the heads up base running taking two bases on the steal was huge. Mentally and strategically Damon’s steal set up the Yankees win and really ended the Phillies title hopes. Had Lidge gotten them out of that inning, and their offense had scored in the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies would have had a real shot to win this series. They would have been tied 2-2 going into tonight, with Cliff Lee on the mound. The way Lee has been pitching, and being at home, the Phillies would have likely headed back to New York up 3-2, which would have given them a fair shot to win the Series. Now down 3-1, the Phillies will have to hope they can even make it back to New York.

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