Brad Lidge did it again.
He squandered a lead by giving up first the tying run to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates in the bottom of the 9th last night, and then gave up a walk-off, game-winning homer to Bucco centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. That's now 9 blown saves for Lidge, whose ERA was re-inflated to a gruesome 7.33, by far the worst ERA of any major league closer. In the process, he blew a remarkable comeback by the Phils, who scored two in the top of the 9th on a double by pinch hitter Ben Francisco and a Shane Victorino muffed fly ball that turned into a triple that gave the Phightins a 4-3 lead, as well as two solo homers by Jimmy Rollins (including a lead-off homer to start the game). In the process, Lidge squandered a solid start by Joe Blanton, who didn't have his good stuff but still pitched 6 solid innings.
For once, Lidge was honest last night. He spoke of being tired after pitching in four straight games, and acknowledged, too late to do any good for the team, "I didn't have anything on the ball tonight." For once, Charlie Manuel seemed to be entirely at a loss for words. Perhaps he has finally realized that Lidge is not going to turn it around this year. Perhaps he has finally realized that Lidge is not going to be the answer to the Phils' problems.
Brett Myers is nearly ready to return, and his velocity has been up around 94 mph, which makes for an overpowering fastball. Chan Ho Park has been truly outstanding since being sent to the bullpen. J.C. Romero has the stuff to be an effective closer. Perhaps the time has come to give one of these guys a chance to close, because the Phillies simply cannot afford any more blown saves by Lidge. At this point, I can't help but wonder if the Phillies shouldn't leave Lidge off the post-season roster, because I can't imagine him closing in the World Series the way he's going.
And Billy Wagner is a now a member of the Boston Red Sox. While a return to Philly by Wagner would have been less than an ideal situation--Wagner said he would not waive his no-trade clause to allow it--he certainly couldn't do any worse than Lidge, reconstructed pitching elbow and all. Wagner is no longer an option, which can only benefit the Red Sox. While I admire the job that Ruben Amaro, Jr. has done as general manager, he should have claimed Wagner off waivers and given it a shot.
SOMETHING has to change....