“As Brad Lidge made the long walk from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound for the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, the crowd’s reaction seemed a combination of encouragement and trepidation.
No doubt, the perspiration on many of the fans was from more than just the hot, sunny day as Lidge prepared to protect the Phillies’ one-run lead.
The first stress alert came when Josh Thole began the inning by floating a single over the head of second baseman Wilson Valdez. Lidge went to 2-0 on Ruben Tejada before getting him on a roller to first base. Then Chris Carter, who had a run-scoring double off Roy Halladay in his previous at-bat, also grounded to first, moving Thole to third with Jose Reyes, who had two doubles, coming up.
Lidge had been throwing two sliders for every fastball, but catcher Carlos Ruiz instructed Lidge to start Reyes with a fastball down and in, and the reliever gave it to him for a strike. Then, with the count 1-1, Lidge nailed down the 6-5 win by getting Reyes to fly out to center off a slider.
Since Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman left Lidge dazed with a walk-off homer nine days ago, the Phils closer has faced 15 batters and retired 13 of them. He also had four saves for his best week since who knows when.
Any discussion about the Phillies’ chance for a third consecutive National League pennant usually centers on Lidge. He doesn’t have to be the perfect closer of 2008, but he has to be better than the Lidge of 2009 or the one who has had a tough time finding a groove this season.”
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