Baseball’s an interesting game. As we saw with Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play, a player can make a mistake, but turn into the hero. A pitcher could be the best closer in baseball one year, but the opposite the next. A team could gain momentum, but it can be reversed quickly.
The Phillies managed to come back in the ninth inning, but just like Matt Capps, Brad Lidge ultimately failed to convert the save in the Phillies 6-4 loss.
On the very first pitch of the game, Jimmy Rollins’ line shot cleared the right-center field seats to put the Phillies on the board. On the first pitch in his second at-bat, Rollins homered again. Two pitches, two home runs.
Joe Blanton pitched a quality start; he lasted six innings allowing three earned runs. However, all three runs came on home runs: Ryan Doumit’s solo shot and Steve Pearce’s two-run blast. Blanton gave up six hits, walked two, and struck out seven.
Ross Olendorf was just as effective. He pitched 6.1 innings and gave up two runs on five hits. The Phillies were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on base. The Phillies trailed 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth.
Capps had trouble in his last appearance against the Phillies. In that game, he blew a 7-3 lead thanks to home runs by Matt Stairs and Ryan Howard. Tonight, neither were due up in the inning, but the bottom of the order provided the damage. Carlos Ruiz started the rally with a double. Ben Francisco drove Ruiz home to tie the game at three.
With two outs, Shane Victorino tripled, scoring Francisco from second. In Little League, coaches stress that the first step is always back. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen did not follow those rules and took the first step in. It was costly. The ball sailed over his head and the go-ahead run scored. McCutchen would get that run back… and more.
With Lidge closing, nothing is a sure thing. Capps already blew his save, but the truth is Lidge has been worse this year. Luis Cruz singled to start the inning against Lidge. That was the beginning of the end.
Brandon Moss singled to right fielder, Jayson Werth. Werth went to scoop up the ball, but bobbled it. Pinch runner, Brian Bixler, rounded the bases and scored from first. Werth fired to the plate. The throw beat the runner, but was off-line so Ruiz could not apply the tag quick enough. Tie game. Blown save, Brad Lidge.
The next batter was McCutchen, who had a chance to redeem himself. He did that, and more. He hit a long drive to straight-away center field. Victorino kept going back, but so did the baseball. It cleared the fence for a walk-off home run.
Lidge blowing saves is becoming a re-occurring nightmare for the Phillies. He is now 0-6 with nine blown saves and an ERA standing at 7.33. There has to be thought as to whether Lidge’s days as a closer are numbered. Either way, the Phillies dropped a game to the lowly, last-place Pirates, a team they must take advantage of.