Sunday, April 19, 2009

BL finally picks up a BS

Brad Lidge blew a save for the first time as a Phillie last night, allowing four runs to the Padres to turn a 5-4 ninth-inning lead into an 8-5 loss.

Lidge had converted 47 consecutive save opportunities dating back to 2007--and also went 7-for-7 during the Phils' 2008 postseason run--but Lidge allowed a lead-off double to Jody Gerut who later scored on an RBI groundout, then allowed two two-out walks before leaving a fastball up to Kevin Kouzmanoff who hit a three-run home run.

Despite the performance, the crowd at Citizens Bank Park gave Lidge a loud ovation after manager Charlie Manuel took Lidge out after the home run. Whatever the public perception is about Phillies fans, you probably wouldn't see that in too many other ballparks.

It was certainly an unfortunate performance, but not something that you didn't really see coming. Lidge has looked solid but not untouchable in his first several appearances this season, and it seemed inevitable that an opponent was going to catch up with him eventually.

It's not helping that the Phillies have now lost three games in a row, and the bullpen has looked terrible in all three losses. But it's better that this is happening in April rather than in September. Just ask the New York Mets.

I'd certainly rather see Lidge blow a one-run lead in Game 2 against the Padres than have seen him blow a one-run lead in Game 5 against the Rays.

The key here is to see how Lidge responds to this.

It took him about two years to get over the monstrous home run he gave up to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS, and if he blows a couple more saves here the fans won't be clapping for much longer.

Lidge still has nasty stuff, and nobody's perfect forever. But as the Phillies have now fallen 5.5 games behind the red-hot Florida Marlins, Lidge and the rest of the bullpen is going to have to pick it up for the Phillies to stay close.

IN OTHER NEWS: The ceremony honoring Harry Kalas on Saturday morning looked like a really nice event. It was touching to see all the players walk by and touch the casket as it sat behind home plate.

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