In case you were wondering how serious Brett Myers‘ strained back was, see the eighth and ninth innings of Wednesday night’s game in Florida.
Leading 6-4 coming into the eighth inning, Phillies‘ manager Charlie Manuel brought Ryan Madson into the game to set the table for Brad Lidge’s entry in the ninth. A year ago, this would have been a foregone conclusion with the game in the bag.
Unfortunately, this is 2009 (or perhaps 1993), not 2008.
Madson allowed a run on a Cody Ross single to left, scoring Jorge Cantu and cutting the Phillies’ lead to a tenuous one run.
Lidge entered the ninth inning having saved his previous three attempts, despite allowing at least a run in each. Unfortunately, Lidge had zero room for error, as the Phillies failed to add any insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
The formerly Lights Out Lidge started the inning by allowing a double to backup first baseman Ross Gload, who moved to third base the following at bat on a Chris Coghlan sacrifice fly. Lidge struck out pinch hitter John Baker for the first out of the inning, but it would be of little consequence.
Lidge blew his 11th save of the season after walking shortstop Hanley Ramirez when he allowed a Cantu single to center field, scoring Gload. He would lose his eighth game of the year on the next play when pinch hitter Brett Carroll scored Ramirez on a single to left center.
Game over. Magic number still at five.
“He’s got to go do it,” Manuel said. “Between him and Madson, they’ve just got to get it done.”
There’s an obvious difference between what they’re got to do, and what they are actually doing. Lidge is now 0-8 on the season with a 7.48 ERA and 11 blown saves in 41 opportunities. Those calling for Madson to be the permanent closer are even more misguided than those of us (me included) still holding out hope that Lidge can find some of his 2008 magic. In 14 save opportunities this season, Madson is 1-3 with a 7.24 ERA and six blown saves. Lidge’s save percentage is 73%. Madson’s is a whopping 57%.
“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.”
The Phillies were a perfect 79-0 when leading after eighth innings last season. Lidge and Madson have a combined 17 blown saves in 2009 and the team is 75-10 when leading after eight innings. If the Phillies’ were again perfect this season, then they would be an MLB leading 98-53.
Myers, it seems, is the only other pitcher that Manuel has any confidence (if that’s even the right word at this point) in to get the job done. Unfortunately, Myers is not scheduled to pitch again until he throws a bupplen session on Tuesday, which is just five days before the end of the regular season. And Manuel is not sure what to expect of the results of the bullpen session will be, although Myers has said he expects to return before the season is over.
“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.”
Unfortunately, in all actuality, neither are Lidge and Madson.