Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lucky Lidge? Not on this night

Lucky Lidge? Not on this night


There is this understandable review of Brad Lidge’s Game 3 save as more luck than design.
I saw it differently.
Lidge pitched to the situation, maybe as well as he has done all season, maybe better. He got struggling Brad Hawpe on two pitches. He never gave in to the red-hot Carlo Gonzalez, finally walking him after the Rockies leadoff hitter – who has eight hits in 13 at-bats so far -- just got some timber on a couple of nasty sliders.
He surprised Jason Giambi with a 1-1 cutter, a pitch he said he had kept in his back pocket all year, and induced a pop-up to third. Two outs. Aware of his numbers against lefthanded Todd Helton (.364 lifetime) and his numbers against the ensuing batter, Troy Tulowitzki (0-for-3 two strikeouts), he tried to bait Helton into bad swings before walking him on five pitches.
He then jammed Tulowitzki with a 1-0 fastball, inducing a soft fly to left to end the game.
``When I've had trouble, I've thrown just tons of sliders over and over and over,’’ said Lidge. ``And the hitters start getting onto that. We tried to mix it up a little bit tonight. We ended up getting him out with a fastball in and hopefully I'll have a chance to do something else tomorrow. But I think I'm best when I'm not too predictable out there.’’
That’s pitching. That’s what Lidge meant all September when he said things could and would change for him in October. It doesn’t mean he will succeed today or tomorrow, if necessary. It just means that what you get from him is a guy who has been under this pressure before, a guy who will go out there with a plan.
The Rockies were justifiably proud of their bullpen entering this series. It entered last night’s game having surrendered just one run in seven innings. But the Phillies nubbed out two against that pen over the last three innings last night. Pitching out of the stretch, baserunners on: That’s what relief pitching is this time of year, more than numbers.
Lidge has failed an incredible number of times this year. Nine of his 11 blown saves were protecting a one-run lead. He kept asking for the ball, for another chance. Credit him for asking. And credit Charlie Manuel for never abandoning him, the way almost every other manager would have if Lidge had floundered all season long like he did for the Phillies.
``Faith will be rewarded,’’ Bruce Springsteen croons in ``Land of Hope and Dreams.’’For this night at least, it truly was.

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Daily News Columnist
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About this blog
Donnellon's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife of 26 years have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. E-mail Sam at
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Sam Donnellon Daily News Columnist
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