In his last seven appearances dating back to the regular season, Brad Lidge has averaged 24.7 pitches per inning, including his 35-pitch effort against the Brewers yesterday.
In his first 66 appearances of the season, he averaged just under 17.5 pitches per inning.
Driving home from the ballpark, this appeared to be the focal point of most fans' concern, despite the fact that Lidge escaped a two-on, two-out jam to record his 42nd consecutive save this season.
Jimmy Rollins said he told Lidge after the game that he doesn't always have to make it interesting. And Charlie Manuel joked "I don't know how many of these I can take."
But Lidge said he wasn't concerned himself.
"For whatever reason, I don't get started with my best stuff until a guy gets on third base," Lidge told our Ed Barkowitz. "I wish I was going out there with a 1-2-3 inning, but a lot of times it takes a guy to get on second or third for me to have my best stuff."
For now, that'll have to do. You can't argue with perfection, I guess.
Still, I understand the concern.
For the record, Lidge said he would be able to pitch tonight if called upon.
The numbers are daunting. Since joining the Brewers in early July, C.C. Sabathia is 11-2 wtih a 1.65 ERA. He has thrown complete games in nine of his 16 starts. Only twice has he failed to pitch seven complete innings. He has thrown more than 100 pitches in all but two of his starts, maxing out at 130 back on Aug. 18 against Houston. He has struck out nine or more batters seven times.
All of this would seem to indicate that the Phillies have about a zero percent chance of winning tonight's game.
However. . .
Sabathia has allowed three or more runs on five occasions. True, he hasn't allowed more than four runs since joining the National League. But he isn't infallible. At least not entirely.
Sabathia has faced the Phillies twice in his career: once in 2002, when he allowed three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The other occasion was last June at Jacobs Field in an interleague game. The Phillies lost 10-6, but they scored four runs in six innings off Sabathia. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard both went 1-for-3 off of him in that game.
Rollins and Sabathia are pretty tight. They grew up in the Bay Area. Their families know each other. Rollins joked last night that after the season he is going to lobby Sabathia to sign with the Phillies.
Rollins is 3-for-7 in his career off Sabathia with a double and a triple. The only other Phillies who have hits off of him are Howard (1-for-3 lifetime) and Pat Burrell (1-for-5 lifetime). None of them have hit a home run off of him.
You have to think the Phillies' best shot is Brett Myers recapturing the magic he displayed in his complete game two-hitter against the Brewers on Sept. 14.
Today's media schedule, for those who are interested:
Pat Burrell is holding a press conference at 2 p.m.
Charlie Manuel will be meeting the media at 2:15 p.m.
Prince Fielder and Brewers manager Dale Sveum will follow.