11 Blown Saves, 11 Games to Play
Charlie Manuel sees it, too.
“It’s getting tough,” he said following a 7-6 loss to the Marlins last night at Land Shark Stadium. “We’ve got to close the games out. When you’re winning a game in the ninth inning, the winning teams win those games. We’re not closing the games out. Everybody out there knows it.
“When you get right down to it you’re supposed to win those games. You’re supposed to win a majority of those games. I mean a high percentage of those games. Exactly what percent I don’t know, but it’s goddamn high.”
Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 11th game of the season. He is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities. Opponents have hit .305 against him. Since Manuel pulled him from a Sept. 8 game in Washington, he is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in five appearances. Opponents have hit .391 against him. In four appearances since Manuel returned him to the closer’s role, he is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA and three saves in four opportunities. Opponents have hit .421 against him.
The Phillies were 79-0 when leading after eight innings last season. They are 75-10 this season.
“He was our closer last year and we signed him to be our closer now,” Manuel said of Lidge. “He’s struggling. But at the same time, it’s hard for us to close the game out. It’s tough. It’s kind of what we’ve got. I’ve got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there, believe me. I guarantee you that.”
Manuel sees no clear alternative (apparently Tyler Walker is not a candidate), although I believe if Brett Myers were healthy he would be closing the next time the Phillies had a save situation. Myers is going to throw a bullpen next Tuesday, and he said he will be back before the end of the regular season. Right-hander Ryan Madson is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but is 1-3 with a 7.24 ERA and 8-for-14 in save opportunities.
“We’re waiting to see how long Brett is going to be,” Manuel said. “I mean, right now Brett’s not even in the picture.”
Lidge continues to maintain he can turn this around before the playoffs, but with each shaky appearance it seems less and less likely.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Lidge said. “I’m disappointed, but they hit the ball tonight. They did a good job. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get another chance to get something started again, but, yeah, I’m definitely frustrated a little bit at a loss, but I’m sure there are some things I can do better.”